Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields: War Crimes Unpunished (Channel 4, UK)
A disturbing fact of today’s media culture is that despite hundreds of channels and thousands of reporters and reporting teams, significant events continue to go unreported, overlooked, unnoticed. One of these events was the Sri Lankan Civil War, a war that led to the deaths of an estimated 40,000 Tamil fighters and civilians. ITN/Channel 4 news reported on these events, but the first film it produced was deemed “fraudulent” by the Sri Lankan government, which mounted an extensive public relations campaign to discredit the work. This, the second film, was produced to demonstrate the truth of the first. New witnesses, new self-shot amateur film, “trophy videos” shot by government officials, and extensive forensic investigation all confirm that the events described did occur in all their horror. Moreover, this new work confirms that the killings were not the result of “rogue” soldiers but were sanctioned at high government levels. The film had enormous political impact. It led to increased international pressure on the Sri Lankan government, which angrily denied all charges. The Indian government altered policies toward Sri Lanka and joined a UN motion condemning Sri Lanka’s human rights record. For refusing to ignore what other organizations had overlooked and for encouraging governments to condemn sanctioned atrocities, a Peabody Award goes to Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields: War Crimes Unpunished.
Executive Producer: Chris Shaw. Producer/Director: Callum Macrae. Reporter: Jon Snow.
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