War-crimes film, Heyns report, drown Colombo theatrics on terror

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 01 June 2011, 00:22 GMT]
Channel-4's announcement of screening of an hour-long film on Sri Lanka's killing fields at UN on 3rd June, and the presentation of video footage to the UN Human Rights Council by the UN special investigator into extrajudicial killings, Christof Heyns, spread a gloomy war-crimes cloud over Sri Lanka making the terror-summit in Colombo, a holiday-extravaganza for the military brass of several rogue nations. The terror-summit is widely perceived as an ill-conceived attempt to whitewash the criminal enterprise the Rajapakse brothers took in slaughtering more than 40,000 civilians and incarcerating more than 300,000 Tamils in internment camps in the war to defeat the Tigers.

"It's very rare that you have actual footage of people being killed," Mr Heyns, a lawyer by training, told The Associated Press. "This is different from CCTV. This is trophy footage," said Heyns, adding, the video showed "definitive war crimes", believed to have taken place in May 2009 - that require both domestic and international proceedings to be launched.

Special Investigator on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions Christof Heyns
Special Investigator on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions Christof Heyns
 Navi Pillay
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay
Ms. Yasmin Sooka
Ms. Yasmin Sooka
"There is a prima facie case and it should now go to the next level," Heynes said, referring to the need for an independent international investigations.

Spokesperson for Tamils Against Genocide (TAG), a US-based activist organization, said, "its a strange quirk of destiny that three South Africans, concurrently holding key human rights positions, are dragging Sri Lanka's war-crimes to world's center stage. One can surmise that the chequered history of apartheid and the moral authority arising from the witnessed inhumanity to a people by another people are driving Navi Pillay, Christof Heyns, and Yasmin Sooka to stand up for justice. Tamil people are eternally grateful to these South Africans for taking the moral highground."

While UN sessions are taking place in Geneva, many rogue nations and alleged abettor nations of the war-crimes, Pakistan, India, Russia and China are attending the terror-summit being held in Colombo.

U.S., Britain, Japan, Australia and France declined invitation to attend the summit.

Meanwhile, , the announced film scheduled to be screened in Geneva and to air in Channel-4 on June 14th, presented by Channel 4 News journalist Jon Snow, features footage captured on mobile phones, both by Tamil civilians under attack and government soldiers as war trophies. It shows: the extra-judicial executions of prisoners; the aftermath of targeted shelling of civilian camps and dead female Tamil Tiger fighters who appear to have been raped or sexually assaulted, abused and murdered. Also examined in the film are some of the terrible crimes carried out by the Tamil Tigers, including the cynical use of Tamil civilians as human shields, Channel-4 said.

"The film, directed by Callum Macrae, provides powerful evidence - including photographic stills, official Sri Lankan army video footage and satellite imagery - which contradicts the Sri Lankan government's claims of a policy of ‘Zero Civilian Casualties'. The film raises serious questions about the failures of the international community to intervene and prevent the deaths of up to forty thousand people and lends new urgency to the UN-appointed panel of expert's call for an international inquiry to be mounted," Channel-4 said in its news report.

Callum Macrae, Director of Sri Lanka's Killing fields
Callum Macrae, Director of Sri Lanka's Killing fields
Macrae said: "The Sri Lankan government wanted a war without witness - deporting journalists and pressurising UN representatives to leave - but it didn't allow for the extraordinary power of mobile phone and satellite technology. We have trawled through hours of painfully raw recordings of the some of the most awful events I have ever seen in many years of war reporting. Sri Lanka's Killing Fields raises serious questions about the consequences if the UN fails to act - not only for Sri Lanka but for future violations of international law," according to Channel-4.

The BBC's Imogen Foulkes in Geneva says that with more evidence of alleged atrocities due to be shown in the city later this week, the pressure is growing on the UN Human Rights Council to debate the role of the army in the closing months of the Sri Lankan civil war, BBC reported.


Chronology:


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External Links:
HRW: Sri Lanka: Military Conference to Whitewash War Crimes
UK: Callum Macrae
Channel-4: UN premiere for Sri Lanka war crimes film
BBC: UN says Sri Lanka war crimes footage is 'authentic'
Reuters: U.N. pressures Sri Lanka over alleged war atrocities
AFP: S.Lanka's 'terror' seminar under war crimes cloud

 

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