Q&A: Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields

UK broadcaster Channel 4 is airing ‘Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields’, a harrowing documentary exposing shocking new evidence of war crimes committed during the closing days of Sri Lanka’s civil war in 2009.  What new footage and new evidence of war crimes is in the Channel 4 documentary?•    Previously unaired mobile phone footage of point-blank extrajudicial executions of three people, including a woman.  •    Previously unaired mobile phone footage of dead Tamil Tigers, including women,,that suggests sexual abuse.•    First video testimony of a Tamil woman who says she and her daughter were gang-raped by Sri Lankan Army soldiers. •    Evidence and testimony that the Sri Lankan Army systematically and knowingly bombed hospitals and civilians, with the oversight of senior military and government officials.  How significant is it that a woman speaks out about allegations of rape?Such testimony is very rare, due to a fear of reprisal and the stigma attached to rape.  How do we know the execution footage is authentic?Amnesty International considers the previous and new mobile phone videos to be credible evidence of war crimes.The United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions has also concluded that the video is authentic What is Amnesty International calling for? Amnesty International calls for an independent international investigation into the extent of violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law.The United Nations Secretary-General established a panel of experts to advise him on justice issues in Sri Lanka.  Their report has now been made public – what should happen next?The Panel calls on the Sri Lankan Government immediately to “commence genuine investigations into these and other alleged violations of international humanitarian and human rights law committed by both sides involved in the armed conflict.” The report also recommends that the Secretary General “immediately proceed to establish an independent international mechanism”. Amnesty International has repeatedly called for the Secretary General to launch such an independent inquiry and has urged UN member states to support it.  How important is a film like this in terms of pushing the human rights agenda?The film reinforces the findings of the UN panel – namely that both sides committed war crimes and crimes against humanity.It contains very graphic footage in a long format documentary that lasts one hour and therefore has more impact on the public than a written report.The film has been hugely important, making it impossible for diplomats to ignore that gross human rights violations took place. Can I watch this film if I am not in the U.K?Yes. The film will be available to global audience for seven days from15 June at:http://www.channel4.com/programmes/sri-lankas-killing-fields