This film is the follow-up to Channel 4’s 2011 documentary cataloguing the final year of the civil war in Sri Lanka.
This latest documentary recaps the investigations and describes the world’s response — or lack of it. Macrae interviewed David Miliband, then UK Foreign Secretary, and John Holmes, a British diplomat who was UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs.
The evidence, both from Tamils who suffered and members of the Sri Lankan army that were involved, is damning. The Sri Lankan army deliberately targeted civilian targets, and they used co-ordinates from humanitarian workers to do that.
The Tamil population was herded, under gun and shell fire, into a small area with restricted food, medical and other humanitarian supplies. The LTTE or Tamil Tigers were at this point mixed in with the Tamil civilian population, and undoubtedly used them as human shields.
Interviews with the diplomatic movers and shakers of the day depict a picture of a “diplomatic dance” in which the Rajapaksa government “ran rings around” foreign diplomats to prevent much investigation whilst they crushed the Tamils.
John Holmes described the context as the “War on Terror”, suggesting that the big powers condoned what Sri Lanka’s government was doing because it was dealing with a group officially labelled as a terrorist organisation.
We should never place faith in our own or other capitalist rulers to defend oppressed groups across the world.
The northern regions of Sri Lanka are still effectively under military rule, and large sections of the Tamil population have fled or disappeared or are held in camps.