The Sunday Leader

Controversial Film Is Sensationalism – SL Army

By Faraz Shauketaly

Video images from the latest Channel 4 documentary on Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka’s Military Spokesperson Brigadier Ruwan Wanigasuriya slated the latest Channel 4 film, ‘Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields, Unpunished Crimes’, as “sensationalism”. The Military spokesperson told The Sunday Leader that there is nothing very new in the film but more of what was shown last year. Brigadier Wanigasuriya also told The Sunday Leader that Channel 4 had not given the government any of the evidence they purport to show in the film so that Sri Lanka could have given a more considered response.
Much of the world reacted with predictable shock at the content of the film broadcast late night in the United Kingdom with London’s Mayor Boris Jonson saying, “London is home to tens of thousands of British Tamils, who are an integral part of our community in London and around the country. Their contribution to life in the capital, particularly through business creation, food and music is greatly valued by all of us. We stand by our fellow Londoners as they continue to mourn the loved ones they tragically lost during the last days of fighting in northern Sri Lanka”.
The film which was broadcast last Wednesday (14) went into greater detail of what had been shown previously with a forensic analysis done using pictures and videos that Channel 4 says they obtained from military personnel on the ground in the form of so-called ‘trophy videos’ filmed on mobile phones. The film went into 4 sections with experts in the film stating that these particular actions amounted to ‘war crimes and crimes against humanity’.
The British Labour politician David Miliband was shown on the film casting grave doubts on what he says was a deliberate attempt by the Government of Sri Lanka in sending food supplies to the refugees trapped in the war zone. Miliband did not disclose the sources of his information but stated that the government had failed to supply enough provisions for all the people trapped. He maintained that ‘only 60 tons’ was sent when in fact 30 tons was required daily. Channel 4 also broadcast quoting from the ‘WikiLeaks’ archives in which they claimed that Miliband using undiplomatic language had called the Sri Lankans ‘liars’.
Outside of Sri Lanka there was much made of the Channel 4 claim in which pictures showing a child with 5 bullet holes in the chest was said to be the 12-year old son of Velupillai Prabhakaran the LTTE chief. Forensic analysts stated on film that the marks in the video and photographs were consistent with being shot at close range ‘maybe 2 to 3 feet’ and suggested that the boy may have been able to touch the gun that shot him. The experts opined that after the initial shot the boy was shot four more times when he was probably lying on the ground.
Reaction to the showing of that segment was met with scorn on the streets of Colombo. A number of people whom I spoke to asked if the children who were killed elsewhere on the island including in Arantalawa, Anuradhapura, Colombo and other places, were not children.
Brigadier Wanigasuriya said that Channel 4 had offered no evidence to prove where or who the child was. He questioned whether the child was part of the hundreds of children that the LTTE used as ‘child soldiers’. He confirmed that ordinarily when met with allegations a formal enquiry would be carried out. Asked specifically if there would be an enquiry on the allegations in this film, he said it was too early to comment as they had only just watched the film themselves and the Military establishment would need to make a decision.
England’s cricket Captain Andrew Strauss put matters into some perspective when he spoke to the British press. He was quoted as saying, “All around us we see atrocities taking place all over the world and in war a lot of unsavoury things happen on both sides”. He went on to say that his job was to play cricket and if his government decided that these matters were serious enough to warrant not touring Sri Lanka then it was up to the politicians. Until then, he intended to play cricket.
No matter the intricacies as indeed they are likely to be many, the latest missive from Channel 4 is bound to keep the pot of war crimes claims, on the boil. Sri Lanka’s government has promised to take action according to the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission report. In the film, much doubt is cast on the LLRC report especially for not going into the allegations of war crimes.
The Deputy Leader of the United National Party Sajith Premadasa said he was, “against any form of war crimes. However the claims must be fully investigated before people can make a judgement”. The Sunday Leader attempted to contact the Channel 4 team and those responsible for the production of the film but at the time of going to press a response had not been received.

6 Comments for “Controversial Film Is Sensationalism – SL Army”

  1. Max

    I live in the UK, Channel 4 has a history of showing doctored videos to sensationalize their news.

  2. As UNP Deputy Leader said before ” Only war crime was committed by the LTTE and Tamils, not by SL Govt or its armed forces”. SL army was highly disciplined force,

  3. Gotta the hero

    Everyone knows this poor child was tortured and murdered by Maj. Gen Jegath Dias and his goon squad of the SLA. Ch.4 please expose as much as you can to bring this Rajapakse thugs to justice. The most corrupt regime in the Lankan history.

  4. Gotta the hero

    The Deputy Leader of the United National Party Sajith Premadasa said he was, “against any form of war crimes? This is what that fellow Sajith Premadasa said. This is coming from another product of one of the tyrants who ruled the country murdering 80,000 Sinhalese during the JVP uprising. Like father like son.

  5. Sudu Kalupahana

    However much you try to justify the gruesome end to terrorism which is much warranted, how can you ever justify visiting the fathers sins on an innocent 12 year old ?

  6. Kunu Kuvera

    Whatever the reason, there is simply no justfying the gruesome killing of an innocent 12yr old for the sins of his father. At that age,he is still a child and deserves to live like all the innocent children his father was responsibke for killing.

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