2ND LEAD (Adds documentary trailer)

War crimes documentary publicity infuriates Colombo

[TamilNet, Saturday, 11 June 2011, 15:23 GMT]
Media publicity surrounding the forthcoming airing of Channel-4 produced war-crimes video "Sri Lanka's Killing Fields," viewed as probably the most horrific" footage it has ever shown in an investigation into alleged war crimes in Sri Lanka, evoked complains by Colombo to OFCOM, as Colombo unsuccessfully tried to keep the identity of the complainant from being disclosed. Colombo continues to attempt to discredit the video despite advice from seasoned political experts to persuade Colombo to take a more professional approach to dealing with the mounting crisis related to call for independent international investigation of war-crimes.

PDF IconChannel 4 to air 'horrific'
Sri Lanka footage
PDF IconChannel 4 to broadcast Sri Lanka's
Killing Fields
PDF IconWhy we decided that the footage
had to be shown
PDF IconMost horrific footage ever
PDF IconC4 tests boundaries of broadcasting
with Sri Lanka exposé
OFCOM, which regulates UK's TV and radio sectors, operates under UK's Communications Act of 2003, is accountable to the Parliament, and is tasked to further the interests of citizens and of consumers, according to its website.

While Colombo failed to stop the airing by complaining to OFCOM, Chris Banatvala, Director of standards, Ofcom, said earlier of Sri Lanka's attempt to stop the 2010 airing of executing video, that "Ofcom did not take forward the Sri Lankan ­government's fairness complaint and rejected its impartiality and accuracy complaint...Ofcom did not allow the Sri Lankan government to exploit our procedures, when it complained about Channel 4 News broadcasting footage of the apparent atrocities committed against the Tamils."

Jon Snow, C4 presenter of war-crimes video
Jon Snow, C4 presenter of war-crimes video
Dorothy Byrne, Channel-4's Head of news and current affairs, who was the key C4 executive behind the decision to air the documentary, herself dissuaded people from watching the film, saying, "I don't urge you to watch this programme. It's horrific. The images will remain in your mind, maybe for years. I can't get them out of my head. The programme goes out at 11pm and the worst images appear in the last part – several hours past the watershed which protects children. But there are probably many adults who shouldn't watch; people who can't watch horrible stuff on the news. I would rather I had never seen it."

Channel 4 was forced to show the film as even after a UN panel said they believed 40,000 Tamil civilians were killed and a major war-crimes investigation was in order, nothing has happened.

"It's not for us to tell you what to think. Watch yourself and judge. It makes you think there should be some international body that holds people to account for atrocities like that. Wait a minute, there is," Byrne said.

Symbolic shot of Sri Lanka's attorney A Nawan, at UN
Symbolic shot of Sri Lanka's attorney A Nawan, at UN
"The Sri Lankan government has claimed the footage of the executions and the aftermath of killings is fake. Not what the forensic pathologists and video experts say. The Sri Lankan government rightly say the Tamil Tigers killed people. Yes they did, but they didn't kill 40,000 civilians. Some other force did that and all the evidence is that the murder was systemic," Channel 4 said.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka's local media pointed out "Sri Lankan government’s deranged diplomatic and domestic responses to serious war crimes allegations," by exposing the contradicting statements issued by Sri Lanka's high level officials: while the Deputy Solicitor General of Sri Lanka said on the screening of the video at the UN that “We have already made a preliminary investigation on the video and we have scientific material established that this particular video is not authentic," the Attorney General Mohan Pieris, days before, speaking to the same gathering of people in Geneva, noted, “…the Government had been precluded from making a full assessment of the Channel 4 video because of the blurred quality of the images.”

Sri Lanka's Killing Fields
Trailer courtesy: Channel 4
Channel 4 producer of the documentary, Callum Macrae, commented, "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."

Sri Lanka's Killing Fields will be transmitted in the UK on 14 June, and will be available online shortly afterwards, Channel 4 said in its program announcement.


External Links:
UK: Callum Macrae
Guardian: Ofcom not exploited
GV: Sri Lanka’s conflicting responses to war crimes allegations
OFCOM: OFCOM: The Communications Regulator
Guardian: A watchdog exploited


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