23 September, 2017

‘No Fire Zone’ Film Premiere Casts Spotlight On Sri Lanka’s Human Rights Record

Film premiere casts spotlight on Sri Lanka’s human rights record as island becomes Freedom from Torture’s top country of origin for referrals

As Sri Lanka’s human rights record is put in the spotlight again tonight with the UK premiere of Callum Macrae’s new feature documentary No Fire Zone, Freedom from Torture can reveal the south Asian island has become the number one country of origin for referrals to us for clinical services.

The Sri Lankan government was also criticised this week when the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay issued a hard-hitting statement accusing the regime of heading towards authoritarianism following her fact-finding mission there.

Freedom from Torture’s recently published 2012/13 Annual Review shows that Sri Lanka surged ahead to become the top country of origin for those referred to the organisation for clinical services in 2012.

Of 1,301 people referred to us for torture rehabilitation and forensic documentation services in 2012, 228 were of Sri Lankan nationality. The vast majority of these were ethnic Tamils and most were referred to us by concerned GPs or solicitors representing them in their asylum applications.

Our Medico Legal Report Service, which documents physical and psychological evidence of torture, produced more expert reports for Sri Lankans than for any other nationality during 2012 and the first quarter of 2013. We produced 79 Medico-Legal Reports for Sri Lankan survivors of torture during this 15-month period, compared with a total of 110 reports prepared for Sri Lankans for the two year period of 2010-2011.

These alarming statistics mean that for the first time in years, Sri Lanka has replaced Iran at the top of the shameful table that tallies the country of origin for the thousands referred to us each year for clinical services here in the UK.

The figures bear testimony to Sri Lanka’s disturbing record of torture, which remains dire despite the end of the civil war in May 2009, and on Saturday UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said that “although the fighting is over, the suffering is not”. She added that she was “deeply concerned that Sri Lanka, despite the opportunity provided by the end of the war to construct a new vibrant all-embracing state, is showing signs of heading in an increasingly authoritarian direction.”

Ms Pillay also lamented the “profound trauma” among survivors of the conflict and the relatives of the missing and the dead. She noted the “desperate need for counselling and psychosocial support” in northern Sri Lanka and condemned restrictions on NGOs working in this sector.

Keith Best, Chief Executive of Freedom from Torture, said: “We welcome the High Commissioner’s recognition that peace in Sri Lanka has been undermined by an increasingly authoritarian government and that grieving communities continue to suffer on the island.

“Large numbers of Sri Lankan torture victims, most of them Tamil, are still coming to Freedom from Torture for rehabilitation and other clinical services and our doctors attest that many were tortured long after the government declared victory in the civil war. In 2012 alone, 228 Sri Lankans were referred to us, more than any other nationality. Sri Lanka was also the top country of origin for torture survivors whose injuries were documented by our world-renowned medico-legal report service. The UN Human Rights Council must stand ready to take tougher action when it meets to discuss the situation next March.”

No Fire Zone premieres tonight at the Curzon Cinema in Soho. Detailing the shelling of up to 400,000 Tamil civilians by Sri Lankan authorities in the final months of the civil war, the film is a timely reminder for British Prime Minister David Cameron as he readies himself to shake the hands with the men who ordered this massacre at the next meeting of the Commonwealth Heads of Government, due to be held in Colombo in November.

The screening will be followed by a question and answer session with director Callum Mcrae and journalist and broadcaster Jon Snow.

*Freedom from Torture press release

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Latest comments

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    Truth is like a Ball in water will always surface no matter how hard one may try to keep it suppressed. It is about time the whole world join hands to defeat the underhand tactics of some of the Western Countries trying to sweep the truth under the UN carpet, to save their brief carriers here and the main perpetrator shielded at the UN Office itself.

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    Truth like the ball can be thrown , can be twisted at who ever is willing to hold it . Gamini as his usual self ever ready to vilify the GOSL , the army . and who ever he wants without a shred of compelling evidence for his outburst . Read Navi Pillay’s report and there are miscarriages of justice happening all round the world . The Utopia that people want is non-existant . There is absolutely no country that have perfect record of good governance. Anyone who is willing to find fault is perfectly free to do so .

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      Sarojini, why do you call your mother’s husband as Father? what evidence have you got, that he is your biological father? Did you see him do your mother up? What is the kind of evidence you are looking for, to disprove Callum Macrae’s film evidence? Some of which are mementos of the Forces personnel themselves. Why is the MR Govt and you supporters hysterical the moment an Independent Investigation is sought by the Human Right’s Watch? If there is nothing to hide?

      We are not looking for a Utopia, but a society with Law and Order, where Justice is dispensed to all citizens alike. A society with none being treated as second class citizens in one’s own country. This is so with most Civilized Countries, unlike here where Political henchmen are free from being charged or arrested for Murder and Rape, just like how so many innocent Tamils have been butchered after being duped to surrender. I saw one of the MR apologists like you, claiming there is no society without corruption. Therefore virtually justifying the rampant corruption here. This is not what you all shouted for, when you all wanted a change from the UNP in 1994. Why this sudden change now condoning Corruption? At least we admit that there was corruption in the UNP and we never condone any and look forward to punish anyone responsible. We never try to sweep issues under the carpet. Believe me if ever RW is found to be Corrupt, you are assured that without any reservation he will be dealt with the contempt he deserves. This is the difference between Your ilk and us. We never try to shield the Murderous and the Corrupt.

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        Things are getting murkier and tougher for the battling Rajapakses. The international community will force the regime to
        permit the showing of Callum McRae’s documentary “No Fire Zone” to the visiting VIPs and officials coming for CHOGM.
        MR’s “shape karanda” and GR’s chandikama and foul mouth is not going to help here. DMK and AIDMK are hardening their stand and
        Delhi is in quite a quandary. The Indian PM is in the “to be or not to be” mode and what India does will be followed by many others. Our lukewarm treatment has ensured Mrs. Pillay’s written submissions will carry few glad tidings for us.

        R.J. de Silva

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      I agree that miscarriage of justice is present in other parts of the world also.

      But the issue Sarojini is the bloodlust in Dharmadvipa. Do we, a nation of so called Buddhist Sinhalese have the right to massacre our own people just because others in the world are massacring their own people? Just because there are other countries which are run dictatorially and with no regard for human rights do we also follow them?

      This is the issue Sarojini.

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    Callum, why are you lying again and again.adding new things to your story and what kind of justice you expect out of this whole episode.
    We know you have to satisfy your funding organization and your Chantal 4 directer board in this game.Do you think LTTE is a not used any Human Right violation during this final parts of war? Do you think they are not violated any form of wrong on their part.Please you are like a puppet of this funding organization.Be realistic as a international film maker or Journalist of representing BBC.How many things happening around the world today.Who is responsible for those things.Osama Bin-leaden killing of Pakistan,Afghan or Iraq war,Qaddafi’s killing in Libya who’s responsible.You can make a good film. USA President, Hilary Clinton and other officer’s watching that Whole episode.This was televise live to the world .They cannot Dinny.
    But UK or other part of the world leading television station are not bothered to prepare to produce any film like this.LTTE is one of the world deadliest terrorist groups according to the expert around the world.That’s why the most part of the world still not lifted their ban from their countries.Including India,USA,UK,European countries.But they have tiger cubs still living (Asylum Seekeers now Citizens most of them are not only Sri Lanka,not even from North and East))with their legacy to carried out around the globe.Sri Lanka government used their own Armed forces (ARMY,Navy,Air force) to eradicate this brutal so called freedom fighters from their land.This is not illegal thing according to constitution of any sovereign country.That why they wipe-out this leaders those who are introduce to their own youths to cyanide pill to sallow and but they havn’t done that practice during their final parts.USA,UK And rest of the World can do any intervention to kill any country violated certain things. but other tiny country cannot used to protect their country from bloody beast.That COUNTRY should have right to save their people suffering from their brutal acts and protect them from this animals. Please show the LTTE violation they had committed past 30 years in this country.

    Kumar

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