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Sri Lanka's Killing Fields

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A hard-hitting investigation into the final weeks of the Sri Lankan civil war, featuring devastating video evidence of horrific war crimes

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A hard-hitting investigation into the final weeks of the Sri Lankan civil war, featuring devastating video evidence of horrific war crimes

  • Sri Lanka's Killing Fields: War Crimes Unpunished

    In 2011 Channel 4 exposed damning evidence of atrocities committed in the war in Sri Lanka. Jon Snow presents this powerful follow-up film, revealing new video evidence as well as contemporaneous documents, eye-witness accounts, photographic stills and videos relating to how exactly events unfolded during the final days of the civil war.

    The film forensically examines four specific cases and investigates who was responsible.

    The four cases include: the deliberate heavy shelling of civilians and a hospital in the 'No Fire Zone'; the strategic denial of food and medicine to hundreds and thousands of trapped civilians - defying the legal obligation to allow humanitarian aid into a war zone; the killing of civilians during the 'rescue mission'; and the systematic execution of naked and bound LTTE prisoners - featuring new chilling video footage of a 12-year-old boy who has been brutally executed.

    This painstaking investigation traces ultimate responsibility up to the highest echelons of the chain of command, asking questions of both President Rajapaska and his brother, the Defence Secretary.

  • Sri Lanka's Killing Fields

    Jon Snow presents a forensic investigation into the final weeks of the quarter-century-long civil war between the government of Sri Lanka and the secessionist rebels, the Tamil Tigers.

    With disturbing and distressing descriptions and film of executions, atrocities and the shelling of civilians the programme features devastating new video evidence of war crimes - some of the most horrific footage Channel 4 has ever broadcast.

    Captured on mobile phones, both by Tamils under attack and government soldiers as war trophies, the disturbing footage shows: the extra-judicial executions of prisoners; the aftermath of targeted shelling of civilian camps; and dead female Tamil fighters who appear to have been raped or sexually assaulted, abused and murdered.

    The film is made and broadcast as UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon faces growing criticism for refusing to launch an investigation into 'credible allegations' that Sri Lankan forces committed war crimes during the closing weeks of the bloody conflict with the Tamil Tigers.

    In April 2011, Ban Ki-moon published a report by a UN-appointed panel of experts, which concluded that as many as 40,000 people were killed in the final weeks of the war between the Tamil Tigers and government forces.

    It called for the creation of an international mechanism to investigate alleged violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law committed by government forces and the Tamil Tigers during that time.

    This film provides powerful evidence that will lend new urgency to the panel's call for an international inquiry to be mounted, including harrowing interviews with eye-witnesses, new photographic stills, official Sri Lankan army video footage, and satellite imagery.

    Also examined in the film are some of the horrific atrocities carried out by the Tamil Tigers, who used civilians as human shields.

    Channel 4 News has consistently reported on the bloody denouement of Sri Lanka's civil war. Sri Lanka's Killing Fields presents a further damning account of the actions of Sri Lankan forces, in a war that the government still insists was conducted with a policy of Zero Civilian Casualties.

    The film raises serious questions about the consequences if the UN fails to act, not only with respect to Sri Lanka but also to future violations of international law.

    Sri Lanka's Killing Fields won the award for Best Investigative Documentary, Television (2012) where the judges said "Sri Lanka's Killing Fields brings a truly shocking story to light through excellent and balanced journalism."

    Other awards:

    BROADCAST AWARDS 2013 and PEABODY AWARDS Sri Lanka's Killing Fields: War Crimes Unpunished

Sri Lanka's Killing Fields synopsis

A hard-hitting investigation into the final weeks of the Sri Lankan civil war, featuring devastating video evidence of horrific war crimes

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