Sri Lanka: No Fire Zone reveals truth of war crimes against Tamils

Cameron to Sri Lanka – not in our name

"Reeling from No Fire Zone" was actor Hugh Grant’s tweeted response to Callum Macrae’s latest documentary about the massacre of Tamils in Sri Lanka.

First broadcast by Channel 4 on 3 November, it invokes once again the enormous sadness that engulfed Tamils across the world in 2009 when they witnessed the horrendous slaughter.

No Fire Zone also exposes the utter hypocrisy and heartlessness of the Tory leadership who are preparing to meet the author of the Tamils’ incredible suffering at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (Chogm) taking place in Colombo. The Tamil word chogam actually means ’sadness’.

This is Callum’s third film and it leaves no doubt that horrendous war crimes took place. Disturbing film clips show how the military forced the population into more and more tiny spaces – called ’no fire zones’ – but repeatedly targeted and heavily shelled them there. This included the areas designated as hospitals by the Red Cross.

Sickeningly there is ’trophy’ footage of summary executions of surrendered and often sexually abused prisoners.

Former UN staffers struggle to recollect their experiences of how the population was intentionally starved of food and medicine.

War crimes lawyers confirm that a 12 year old boy was shot at close range by military personnel.

And finally it shows how the war criminal government tried to hide the evidence. Throughout the film there are clips of military spokespeople reporting lies that not one civilian has been killed. The UN estimates it could have been 70,000 or more killed in the last weeks alone.

Four years on, some areas remain under high security military control. The documentary gives a glimpse of the on-going war against the Tamil community and other minorities – how the cultural make-up of the North and East traditional Tamil areas is being changed systematically.

But Tamil Solidarity argues that the struggle must go on – based on the mass participation of Tamil young people and workers, and making an appeal to the wider British working class and youth.

Tamils in Sri Lanka sent a strong message of defiance in recent elections. Despite government dirty tricks, bribes and threats, voters in the North rejected the government parties and their allies overwhelmingly.

This defiance must now be developed into building a movement of resistance. What we do here in solidarity will be vital to that.

Tamil Solidarity protest scores victory as Sri Lanka president Rajapaksa cancels speaking engagement, photo Sarah Sachs Eldridge

The Channel 4 Killing Fields documentaries have helped to break the British media silence on this issue. However, campaigners have fought hard to bring out the truth.

Tamil Solidarity campaigns to raise awareness and build solidarity among young people and the trade unions.

Unison, which organises more than 1.3 million public sector workers, voted to affiliate to the Tamil Solidarity campaign at its 2012 national conference.

Many leading trade union activists have already come out in opposition to Chogm in Sri Lanka. Labour left MP Jeremy Corbyn has indicated that he will take part in Tamil Solidarity’s ’Not in Our Name’ protest action at Downing Street on 15 November to coincide with the Chogm opening ceremony.

Well-known playwright Rani Moorthy, campaigning writer Meena Kandasamy, and others have pledged to participate in the protest day of action across the world.

Disgracefully a section of Tamil campaigners maintain their links with the Tories. What should be the response to David Cameron going to Chogm? Tamils in Britain should cut all links with Tories.

And they must join with those, such as Tamil Solidarity, such as the trade unions and the young people, who say that the struggle must continue.

Protest – Chogm

15 November 4-7pm, Downing Street 0777 832 7044

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November 2013