HAF Initiative Seeks Justice for Sri Lanka War Crimes Victims

Washington, D.C. (September 2, 2015) -- The Hindu American Foundation (HAF) announced the launch of a new initiative today seeking justice for war crimes victims in Sri Lanka. HAF has provided Nobel Prize nominee and award-winning filmmaker, Callum Macrae, with a human rights grant to create an updated version of his acclaimed documentary film, No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka and a new shorter 30 minute advocacy video.

The project is aimed at advocating for an independent international inquiry and judicial process for war crimes committed by all side during Sri Lanka’s 26 year civil war, ahead of the upcoming United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) session in Geneva from September 14 - October 2. The UNHRC will be deliberating over whether to move forward on an international investigation or allow the Sri Lankan government to pursue a domestic inquiry into the civil war.

Macrae has taken his film on an international tour and is scheduled to hold screenings for policy makers and the public in New York and Washington, D.C. from September 9 - 15.

HAF is currently in the process of scheduling other screenings and events. If you are interested in hosting a screening or event in your city, please contact us at samir@hafsite.org.

A link to the No Fire Zone trailer can be seen here (Warning: This film contains graphic footage and is intended for mature audiences only).

About Sri Lanka’s Civil War
Sri Lanka’s civil war lasted for 26 years and resulted in between 100,000 and 200,000 deaths and the displacement of nearly one million people. The Sri Lankan government’s final military offensive in the closing months of the war in 2009 resulted in up to 40,000 civilian deaths of ethnic Tamils and, according to the UN, two-thirds of the deaths occurred in purported safe zones created by the government. When the war was over, some 300,000 internally displaced persons were put in military camps that some termed “internment camps.” As of 2014, there were still 90,000 internally displaced persons. In March 2014, the UN Human Rights Council adopted a U.S-sponsored resolution to launch an inquiry into war crimes committed by both sides of the conflict, as well as the ongoing human rights abuses on the ground today. The current Sri Lankan government is firmly opposed to an outside investigation and continues to lobby the U.S. and other countries on the UN Human Rights Council to conduct a domestic inquiry. Although previously supporting an international inquiry, the U.S. recently announced a reversal of its position and an intention to support the Sri Lankan government’s plan to conduct a domestic inquiry. HAF and other human rights advocates find this unacceptable.
 
About the Film
No Fire Zone is a chilling, powerful Emmy-nominated feature documentary that tells the story of the final months of the 26-year-long Sri Lankan civil war. A new version of the film has been released for 2015. The story is told by the people who lived through the war and through some of the most dramatic and disturbing video evidence ever seen: direct evidence of war crimes, summary execution, torture and sexual violence, recorded by both the victims and perpetrators during the final days of the conflict.
 
British Prime Minister David Cameron said, “No Fire Zone is one of the most chilling documentaries I’ve watched….Many of the images are truly shocking. This documentary raises very serious questions that the Sri Lankan government must answer about what it did to protect innocent civilians.”
 
The musician and artist M.I.A. described No Fire Zone as “the only film that gives me faith in journalism. It’s not only the most important account of what happened to the Tamils, it’s actually become part of the fabric of their history.”
 
“Whichever government is in charge, whatever the political developments, the need for truth and justice remains unchanged and undiminished,” said Macrae. “The victims are looking to the international community – and in particular to the members of the Human Rights Council. This cannot be seen as a matter of political expediency. This must be seen purely as a question of defending human rights and upholding the international humanitarian law designed to stop these kinds of massacres from ever happening again.”