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By Jayantha Sri Nissanka and Sulochana Ramiah Mohan-17 NOVEMBER 2013
The controversial Channel 4 director of the documentary, No Fire one! "illin# Fields of Sri $anka, Callum Macrae, is in Sri $anka to cover the Common%ealth &eads of 'overnment Meetin# (C&)'M*+ S,eakin# to Ceylon Today, the father of t%o children %ho is ha,,ily married, said he had visited the country t%o years a#o, havin# arrived here under cover, and %ent on to say that Sri $anka is a -eautiful country %ith lovely ,eo,le+ &e ho%ever said, he and his C4 team have had to ,ut u, %ith a .tou#h time/ durin# their stay in the country+ 01cer,ts! 2! 3id you meet 4resident Ra5a,aksa6 7! No, 8 did not meet him, -ut my collea#ue, Jonathan Miller, met him+ 2! 9as anythin# im,ortant discussed6 7! Not very much+ 8 %as not there -ut somethin# on the lines that Jonathan had asked the 4resident! .7re you %orried a-out the accusations of you -ein# res,onsi-le for alle#ed %ar crimes:/ and the 4resident had re,lied .No, 8 am not %orried a-out anythin#+/ 2! 9ould you like to meet him6 7! )f course, 8 %ould -e very ha,,y to meet him+ 8 have some ;uestions 8 %ould very much like to ask him+ 2! 8s it in your a#enda to take 4resident Ra5a,aksa to the 9ar Crimes Tri-unal6 7! 8 have only a 5ournalistic a#enda+ My 5o- is to tell the truth and do an investi#ation on %hat had ha,,ened+ 8 think it/s im,ortant for ,eo,le to understand the reason 8 %as asked to ,roduce my first film %as -ecause 8 had made a num-er of films on %ar crimes, alle#ations of %ar crimes and on the unethical -ehaviour of leaders of countries+ 4eo,le ask me over and over a#ain, %hy don/t 8 ,roduce films a-out 8ra; and of %hat Britain and the <S did in 8ra;6 8 have made more films a-out 8ra; and more films a-out the alle#ations a#ainst the coalition forces in 8ra; than the films 8 have made on Sri $anka+ There is ma5or in;uiry ,resently #oin# on, on alle#ations of 8ra;i ,risoners -ein# e1ecuted -y the British forces, and it %as 8 %ho set the tone for the investi#ation+
2! But %hy didn/t you ,roduce a documentary on the $TT0 and the atrocities they had committed6 7! 8 have addressed the crimes of the $TT0 as %ell as the crimes of the Sri $ankan 'overnment+ 9hat 8 did %as -ased on the last four months of the %ar+ 8n that documentary, 8 have e1amined all the events that took ,lace durin# the %ar+ 8 have referred to the $TT0 militants and that they %ere #uilty of havin# suicide -om-ers, and usin# child soldiers+ There %ere foota#e of $TT0 suicide -om-in# of the innocent civilians and it sho%ed ho% they attem,ted to kill ,oliticians, %hen a suicide -om-er e1,loded a -om- durin# a marathon race %here a ,olitician %as ,resent, and many civilians %ere killed+ The reality is that -oth sides committed crimes, -ut the vast num-er of civilians died in the hands of the #overnment forces and that is the sim,le fact+ The #overnment cannot hide itself -ehind the crimes of the $TT0, and the crimes of the Ti#ers do not 5ustify the #overnment/s crimes+ 8 never dis,uted the atrocities of the $TT0, -ut the #overnment claims to -e democratic, and claims to u,hold international la%s at a hi#her level+ Because of my investi#ation, 8 have no% -een -randed as an $TT0 sym,athi=er+ That is very dan#erous+ 8 cannot %alk on the streets of Colom-o on my o%n+ 8t/s not safe+ 8 did not feel safe on the train 5ourney to "ilinochchi that %as th%arted+ 8t/s not the ,eo,les/ fault+ They -elieve %hat they have -een told, %hich is a -i# lie+ 2! &o%ever, your films focus on the Sri $ankan 7rmy than of the $TT0 atrocities+ &o% can you say you have a -alanced vie% of the crimes committed -y -oth ,arties6 7! 9e are dealin# %ith a #overnment that claims to -e a democratic #overnment u,holdin# international humanitarian la%s, and %hich has -een held res,onsi-le for the deaths of the ma5ority of civilians+ 8 don/t %ant to #et into an ar#ument on the morality of .killin# this many ,eo,le or that many ,eo,le+/ But it/s certainly the case in terms of the s,ecific crimes the Sri $ankan 'overnment has to address %hich are on a hu#e scale> it/s not #ood enou#h to say that the $TT0 %as %orse than the #overnment+ 2! 3oes $TT0 dias,ora ,ay you to ,roduce these documentaries6 7! Channel 4 has an o,en account+ 8t/s a Trust, and a clear or#ani=ation+ 7nyone can ins,ect it+ 9hen %e made the first film %e revealed the source of fundin# for the film %hich %as entirely from foundations and charita-le institutions+ There %as not a ,enny that %e received from the Tamils+ Besides that, can anyone ima#ine %hy the $TT0 %ould ,ay me %hen 8 call them %ar criminals %ho resort to suicide -om-in#s, shootin# do%n their o%n ,eo,le, and ,reventin# ,eo,le from leavin# the No Fire one6 8t/s a-surd? 2! But did you make use of the situation to earn -i# money from the Tamil dias,ora6 7! 8 %ould have -een very %ell off than 8 am, had 8 done that+ 7sk my %ife ho% much 8 made
out of this film+ She/s furious %ith me+ She kee,s on askin#, %hy are you doin# this6 8 am a successful film director+ 8 can make more money -y ,roducin# other films+ 8t %ould -e more fun and less dan#erous+ 7s a 5ournalist, 8 have investi#ated and found the truth, and 8 am -ein# told that the truth is a lie, the evidence is lies, and 8 am an $TT0 mercenary+ 8 don/t have to defend 5ournalism that %ay+ 2! )ne of the ethics in 5ournalism is that you can %rite@,roduce -ut you don/t cam,ai#n for someone+ Aou came u, %ith four documentaries and you are ho,in# to ,roduce the ne1t one+ Aou have -een travellin# e1tensively to reveal %hat you have done+ 8s that ri#ht6 7! 8 am not ,lannin# on makin# another documentary as yet+ 8f there is more evidence for another film, then 8 %ould make one+ No Fire one is a feature documentary+ The first t%o "illin# Fields of Sri $anka, are TB documentaries desi#ned for television+ &o%ever, the feature documentary is little different from the TB version+ 8t is one-and-a-half hours lon# and desi#ned to -e sho%n at theaters as a movie+ So it/s the standard version and any ,roducer %ho has films such as these #o on tours to screen them+ 2! 8f your documentaries contain authentic video cli,s, %hy hasn/t the international community taken any action a#ainst Sri $anka6 8n our vie%, that clearly sho%s your cli,s are not authentic+ 7! 8t/s not 5ust %e, %ho have to ,rove they are authentic+ 9e for%arded some of the foota#es to an inde,endent forensic analysis com,any and they analy=ed the foota#es+ 9hen %e #et foota#e, %e don/t assume they are #enuine till they are ,roved to -e so, after a series of analyses+ 2! 9ho analy=ed the foota#e to verify their authenticity6 7! 7 British com,any> and they don/t %ant to -e named+ 9e ,aid them for their investi#ations+ The foota#e %as su-5ect to di#ital ima#e analysis to ascertain if there %as any evidence of mani,ulation+ They looked for any editin# that could have -een done, and the direction of the li#ht to state the ty,e of ,hones from %hich the ima#es %ere recorded+ Forensic ,atholo#ists also studied the %ay the -odies had fallen, and the manner in %hich -lood had -een s,lattered to check if the ima#es %ere faked+ But they %ere #enuine, and the cli,s %ere not .,erformed/ -y actors+ 7lso, the <nited Nations too used different e1,erts to analy=e the foota#e+ They %ere tested, a-solutely to the very limits one could conduct such tests+ These are #enuine, and 8 am confident of %hat 8 have ,roduced+ Aou may also kno% that after the %ar came to an end, the <N &uman Ri#hts Council ,assed a resolution, con#ratulatin# Sri $anka for finishin# the %ar+ But %hen evidence of crimes started to emer#e, they started to ask ;uestions+ The ,anel of e1,erts a,,ointed -y Ban-"i moon sa% the foota#e and re,orted to the <N that there is credi-le evidence+ These are the develo,ments that -rou#ht a-out a chan#e+ The <N revie%ed the 4T re,ort %hich said the evidence in the film %as si#nificant and needs to -e -rou#ht to the attention of the mem-er states+ 0ven Navi 4illay asked for a detail re,ort,
and ;uestioned %hy it %as not investi#ated and also %hy there %as no re,ort on the alle#ed %ar crimes e1,osed -y C4+ So the %orld is ,ayin# attention+ They are concerned, and that is %hy every si1 months, you see a stron#er resolution -ein# ,assed a#ainst Sri $anka+ 2! 8f so, %hy didn/t the <N -ody or any other international -ody take u, the matter and ,ress Sri $anka6 3oesn/t this sho% there is no authenticity of your foota#e6 7nd also, many don/t allo% you to screen the documentary, and it a,,ears that you are stru##lin# to sho% the film+ Aou did not even #et the visa to enter 8ndia6 7! No one succeeded in sto,,in# the movie and no one has -een a-le to -lock us+ There has -een o,,osition to the movie -ecause the Sri $ankan 'overnment is tryin# to sto, us from screenin# it> no one else+ 8 could not #o to 8ndia due to the ,olitics there+ 8 could have #one to Tamil Nadu -ut 8 %ill never #o there+ My a#enda %as not to mani,ulate the situation, and 8 feel 8ndia feared 8 %ould -e in Tamil Nadu+ 2! 7re you #oin# to make another documentary on your e1,erience in Sri $anka6 7! My stay in Sri $anka has -een tou#h and 8 am not -lamin# anyone+ Sri $ankans are incredi-ly nice+ 7nd 8 do not colour my vie%s of the ,eo,le of Sri $anka, -ased on the alle#ed %ar crimes+ 8 don/t 5ud#e Sri $ankans -y their 4resident? 2! 7s far as Sri $ankans are concerned, you are one of the most hated ,ersonalities+ &o% do you feel a-out that6 7! 8 am not intimidated -y that+ 8f so, 8 %ouldn/t -e here+ 8 am hated -ecause the ,eo,le have -een told thin#s %hich are not true a-out me+ They are told throu#h the State media that 8 am an $TT0 su,,orter and these are monstrous lies+ 8 condemn them+ To deflect the attention and the criticism, they say 8 am a Ti#er+ 8 really don/t kno% %hat to do+ 8 %as sayin# somethin# on TB here, and they did not use my voice -ut a commentator read off a ,a,er that 8 am an $TT0 su,,orter+ 8 have never -een in a situation like this in my life+ 9hat am 8 -ein# accused of6 Bein# a -ad 5ournalist -y these ,eo,le6 7re these ,eo,le #ood ,eo,le, -y com,letely i#norin# the facts, and sayin# that %hat 8 say is lies, and ,uttin# my life at risk6 Sorry, 8 am #ettin# mad+ 2! 9ho facilitated your 5ourney to "ilinochchi6 3id you inform the Ministry of Media a-out your tour6 7! The 4resident said %e %ere free to travel %herever %e %anted to+ So %e decided to #o, and said, let/s #o to "ilinochichi+ 2! 9hy did you #o to "ilinochichi in ,articular6 7! 8 have -een fed %ith t%o different descri,tions a-out the North+ The #overnment and its su,,orters said, .everythin# is alri#ht there+/ They s,oke a-out the ne% roads, schools and that
the economy is -oomin#, the ,eo,le are free, all the e1-$TT0 cadres are reha-ilitated+ But the Tamils say they are under military re,ression, they have no freedom, they are su-5ect to se1ual violence, thousands of acres of land are still under the #overnment, the 7rmy is every%here, there is no freedom, and decent Sinhalese farmers and cultivators are moved to the North and #iven #rants to settle there+ So %hat does a #ood 5ournalist do6 &e #oes and has a look, to find out the real situation -ehind all these stories+ But %ho sto,,ed us from #oin# there6 8t/s the ,eo,le %ho said all is %ell in the North+ 2!9hat %ere the ,erce,tions that you had -efore comin# here and %hat are your ,erce,tions after arrivin# in Sri $anka6 7! To tell you the truth, 8 came here t%o years a#o+ 2!3id you come here as a 5ournalist t%o years a#o6 7! No+ 8 had to come under cover, and not as a 5ournalist+ My first im,ression %as .it/s a nice ,lace and the ,eo,le are -eautiful+/ 8 am #enuine in makin# that statement+ But 8 don/t think it/s a free country+ The ,ress is not free+ 8 don/t think all the ,eo,le are free nor are the ri#hts of the minorities res,ected+ There is a ,ro-lem in Sri $anka+ 2!9hy did Channel 4 come %ith a CD-mem-er team6 7! There are only ei#ht of us+ 9e are here to cover C&)'M and the issues around C&)'M+ That includes the nature of the country that %ill chair the C&)'M for the ne1t t%o years+ 9e are here to cover the discussions on Sri $anka %hich is no% the chair of the Common%ealth+ 8f this country does not u,hold Common%ealth ,rinci,les, then it cannot -e ,art of the Common%ealth+ So %e need to #o around and check for ourselves+ 2! The latest documentary that you screened of 8sai,riya/s alle#ed murder: %hy did you time its screenin# to coincide %ith C&)'M6 7! 9e finished this documentary some time -ack+ 8t %as a lo% resolution movie cli,+ 9e %anted to kno% if the ,erson in the cli,s %as truly her+ &er sister sa% the film, and confirmed it %as her+ 9e %ere not %aitin# for C&)'M+ But 8 %as an1ious to release it -efore C&)'M+ That is my 5o- as a 5ournalist+ 2! 9hy did you ,rioriti=e issues concernin# Sri $anka6 7! 8 did not+ 8f you s,oke to me four years a#o, 8 %as on 8ra; and talkin# a-out British %ar crimes in 8ra;+ 2! 9hat %as the outcome of that investi#ation6 7! Currently, there is a ma5or ,u-lic in;uiry -ein# held in Britain on the #overnment havin# s,ent millions of ,ounds on the events that took ,lace in the -attle of 3anny Boy> British
soldiers are accused of e1ecutin# 8ra;i ,risoners %hich %as -ased on my investi#ation+ 2! 7re you hated -y your o%n ,eo,le for e1,osin# that6 7! No+ 8 made more films trackin# my o%n #overnment and their -ehaviour in 8ra;, -ut the ,eo,le never reacted like the %ay they do in Sri $anka+ 2! 9hat do you antici,ate from your findin#s on Sri $anka6 7! To see reconciliation and a ,olitical solution> there should -e 5ustice+ To #et 5ustice, you must first kno% the truth, and that has not -een resolved+ 2! 9hy don/t you #ather all the Sri $ankan officials concerned, and have a face-to-face talk %ith them, and clear their dou-ts and ,rove your ,oint6 7! 0very time there is a screenin# of the movie, Sri $ankan officials are invited to s,eak+ But %hat they do is sto, the screenin# and stand outside (in 'eneva and 7ustralia* and then deny the alle#ations -y sayin# it is all lies, and %alk out+ 8 have said that the $$RC did not ask relevant ;uestions at the in;uiry+ Ma5+ 'en+ Shavendra Silva %as not asked im,ortant ;uestions, such as, %hose orders had he received durin# the final ,hase of the %ar6 But he misconstrued my ;uestions and said 8 %as em-arrassed and humiliated -y him+ My ;uestions %ere different+ &e deli-erately ,retended not to understand me+ 2! )ur Media Minister, "eheliya Ram-uk%ella, said the ,eo,le %ill -e a#itated -y your ,resence, as you had descri-ed this country as havin# ,eo,le %ho are %ar criminals+ Therefore, shouldn/t you antici,ate such ,rotests6 7! First, investi#ate and come out %ith the truth+ That %ill ,ut thin#s ri#ht+ 2! 9ill you come to Sri $anka a#ain6 7! 8 %ould love to come a#ain, %hen these .insanities/ are not there+
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