Warning: This article is not light reading. This story contains graphic images.
In a truly damning story produced by Channel 4 in Britain, Australian international current affairs show Four Corners has aired for the first time, graphic, horrific footage and forensic evidence that up to 40,000 Tamil civilians were killed by the Sri Lankan Government in the final weeks of the 25 year civil war between the Sri Lankan Government and the Tamil Tigers.
The program provided evidence that while the ‘Tigers’ used civilians as human shields, the Government forces repeatedly shelled civilians who had been offered sanctuary in “no fire zones”, in a no-holds-barred effort to destroy the Tamil Tiger army. These allegations are serious enough to suggest serious violations of human rights law, some of which could amount to war crimes, and crimes against humanity.
The Government of Sri Lanka denies this, saying the information is based on “biased material”, questioning the numbers killed and the authenticity of the visual evidence.
Full Four Corners Video Link : You can judge for yourself.
Warning: The program (and the image stills below) contains disturbing descriptions and footage of executions, atrocities and the shelling of civilians. It includes devastating new video evidence of war crimes. Some of this material was shot on video cameras; other scenes are taken from mobile phones used by Sri Lankan soldiers as trophy vision.
Put together, it creates one of the most confronting stories of war and conflict ever seen on Australian television.
The film went to air on July 4th, 2011, just as United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon faces growing criticism for refusing to launch a full independent investigation into “credible allegations” of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
While the program clearly shows the brutality of Government forces, the film’s producers also detail the horrific atrocities carried out by the Tamil Tigers, who used civilians as human shields. In one case, a Tamil Tiger suicide bomber detonates an explosive charge while standing in the middle of a “safe haven” area for other Tamils.
As one international legal expert explains, the behaviour of the ‘Tigers’ cannot be ignored:
“Crimes by one side do not begin to give a kind of carte blanche to the other side to break the rules as well.”
However, in the end “Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields” presents a damning account of the actions of Sri Lankan Government forces, in a war that the Government still insists was conducted with a policy of “Zero Civilian Casualties”.
While truly distressing, I share the same view as Four Corners and Channel 4 who produced the news film being discussed: I too believe it is important the world be prompted into loud public outcry enough so that action is taken to bring justice upon witnessing the extent of atrocities like this around the world. This is worse than any inhumane cruelty to animals in Indonesian Abbatoirs and more worthy of your time and attention, as a fellow human being.
- A Body Guard of Lies – Channel 4, The Truth and Sri Lanka’s “War Crimes”. (thecarthaginiansolution.wordpress.com)
- Sri Lanka: Why a sports boycott is essential for justice TYO (tamilnet.com)
- Britain renews call for Sri Lanka war crimes inquiry (guardian.co.uk)
- Sri Lanka and war crimes (blogs.ft.com)
- Lifting the lid on Sri Lanka’s war crimes (guardian.co.uk)
- Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields: Eyes On The Ground (oneislandtwonationsblogspotcom.typepad.com)
- Tasteless tourism should be avoided in Sri Lanka (antonyloewenstein.com)