Sri Lanka: New documentary reignites debate
Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields (watch it here; viewer discretion advised), a British documentary that details the last days of the decades-long Sri Lankan civil war, has reignited discussions about the prosecution of war crimes possibly committed at the end of the conflict. Sri Lanka’s government has long maintained that it perpetrated no crimes in its 2009 offensive into territory held by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.
Despite a post-conflict UN investigation that found credible evidence of war crimes on both sides, neither the UN nor Sri Lanka itself has shown any interest in acting on the investigation’s findings, and Security Council members Russia and China supported the Sri Lankan government’s claim that it took justified and necessary measures to end a stubborn resistance.
The documentary, which aired yesterday on the UK’s Channel 4, depicts evidence of crimes including indiscriminate bombardments, extrajudicial executions, and rape and murder.
NGOs and governments alike have released statements calling for further investigation. But UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has stated that he can only call for an investigation if the Sri Lankan government consents.