Sri Lanka's Killing Fields

June 17, 2011

Sri Lanka
Civilians, in between Kilinochchi and Mulathiv, Sri Lanka, May 2009, during the last few months of the war. (c) Private

Last night, I watched a harrowing new documentary, “Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields,” by Channel 4, a British media company, about the final months of the civil war in Sri Lanka in 2009.

The 49-minute film depicts the massive human rights abuses and violations of the laws of war committed by both the Sri Lankan government forces and the separatist Tamil Tiger rebels.  The film is available online at Channel 4’s website until June 21.

Please note:  some of the scenes in the film are very disturbing.  It is NOT for younger viewers.

The film includes an extended version of the “execution video” released in 2009, in which naked prisoners are shown being shot in the head.  There are scenes of dead female Tamil Tigers who appear to have been raped and murdered.

Video footage captured the shelling by government forces of crowded hospitals and of civilians camped in areas declared by the government as “no-fire zones.”  Viewers can also see the use by the Tigers of civilians as human shields against advancing government forces.

The documentary provides powerful new evidence of the need for an international investigation into war crimes and other human rights abuses committed by both sides during the war in Sri Lanka.

Amnesty International has been calling for an international investigation into these crimes.  We know that U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is looking for U.N. member states to authorize any such international investigation.  The U.S. government should take the lead in this effort.  Please sign our online petition to the U.S. government asking the U.S. to publicly support an international war crimes investigation in Sri Lanka.

Only after those responsible for these crimes are held accountable can the victims and their families receive the truth and justice they deserve.