Australian Tour of No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka

No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka is a feature documentary which follows the Sri Lankan government’s final offensive in a 26 year war against the rebel forces of the Tamil Tigers. The Channel 4 film was screened at the UN earlier this year before the Human Rights Council passed a resolution asking Sri Lanka to investigate accusations of war crimes.

The film’s Director, Callum Macrae, is in Australia for the film’s Australian premiere and tour which the Human Rights Law Centre is pleased to be supporting.

As part of the tour, the HRLC is holding a parliamentary preview screening and briefing session for MPs, journalists and political advisers in Parliament House, Canberra. Other organisations are hosting public screening details of which are outlined below. Please note: you must be 18 years of age or older to attend any of the screenings.

Dates and details for the public screenings:

Canberra: 6:30pm, Monday 24 June 2013, Australian National University
Ticketing TBA c/- ANU Law Students' Society

Sydney CBD: 6pm, Thursday 27 June 2013, Wesley Theatre, Wesley Conference Centre, 220 Pitt St
Online tickets for Sydney screening available here.

Sydney, Silverwater, 6:15, Saturday 29 June, C3 Conference Venue-Cnr Egerton and Silverwater Road Silverwater
Online tickets for Sydney Silverwater screening available here.

Melbourne: 6:30pm, Friday 28 June, Carrillo Gantner Theatre, Sidney Myer Asian Centre, University of Melbourne, Near Gate 6, Swanston Street
Online tickets for Melbourne screening available here.

Perth: 6:30pm, Sunday 30 June, Cinema Paradise, Northbridge Perth. Includes Q&A with Director Callum Macrae and WA Greens Senator, Scott Ludlam. Tickets available via this link: https://lunapalace.com.au/index.php?cin=events#277 Or contact  leonielundy@westnet.com.au for further information.

For further details about the public screenings (apart from Perth event) please contact the Australian Tamil Congress by emailing admin@australiantamilcongress.com or calling 1300 660 629.
For further information about the film visit: nofirezone.org

Statement from the supporters of the Australian tour of No Fire Zone: the Killing Fields of Sri Lanka

In January 2009 the Sri Lankan government launched the final offensive in a 26 year war against the rebel forces of the Tamil Tigers or LTTE, who were fighting for an independent Tamil state within Sri Lanka.

In the final stages of the war, the Government of Sri Lanka encouraged hundreds of thousands of Tamil civilians to gather in “No Fire Zones”, where they said they would be safe.  Government forces then subjected these zones to sustained shelling. Food queues, hospitals, and aid convoys were all attacked by the Sri Lankan military and government officials denied adequate supplies of food and medicine to the trapped civilians.

No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka is a feature documentary which follows the last 138 terrible days of this war.  Both a film of record and a call to action – No Fire Zone is a devastating expose of war crimes and crimes against humanity:  the culmination of a three year investigation which has seen its producers nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

A UN panel of independent experts concluded that as many as 40,000 civilians died, mostly as a result of government shelling.  However the panel found credible evidence of war crimes on both sides.  A later UN internal review suggested the figure could be 70,000 dead, or even higher.

The film also reveals chilling evidence of other war crimes by government forces including the systematic execution of bound, naked, blind-folded prisoners and sexual violence against female prisoners.  The Tamil Tigers too stand accused of war crimes including the forced recruitment of soldiers, including child soldiers, and shooting civilians who tried to escape the zone.

The 2011 UN Panel of Experts called for a credible international investigation into all the crimes committed in the last few months of the war.  This call was recently echoed by the UN Human Rights Commissioner, Navi Pillay.  A 2013 UN Human Rights Council resolution co-sponsored by Australia went as far as calling for the Sri Lankan government to conduct independent and credible investigations of the alleged war crimes.

The Government of Sri Lanka continues to insist that it can deal with these allegations itself. But after four years it has taken no meaningful action to identify or prosecute anyone who could be deemed responsible.  Indeed it continues to insist it had a policy of “zero civilian casualties” and that the evidence in this film is faked.

Today in Sri Lanka serious human rights abuses including disappearances continue and remain inadequately investigated.  Free speech is denied, journalists and government critics continue to be assaulted and silenced.  Muslims too, are being subjected to hate campaigns orchestrated by extreme members of the Sinhalese majority community and the independence of the judiciary is under attack.  Earlier this year, the Government of Sri Lanka impeached its Chief Justice in a process declared to be unconstitutional by its highest courts.

In November, Sri Lanka is due to host the next meeting of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.  At the same time it will take over chairmanship of the Commonwealth from Australia.  Many people find this unacceptable and calls are growing for the venue to be changed and for governments to boycott the event if it is held in Colombo.

Australia, as current chair of the Commonwealth, has a vital role to play in ensuring that the values of the Commonwealth – human rights, the rule of law, justice and accountability - prevail in Sri Lanka. Australia is also receiving a record number of Sri Lankan asylum seekers, making the ongoing human rights concerns a critical matter for the Australian government.

The start of the process which leads to justice is truth-telling.  This is why we – the above organizations - are supporting this week-long Australian tour of the film “No Fire Zone”.

We hope that this tour will help raise the profile of this issue and encourage our leaders – as well as ordinary citizens - to support international action to end criminal impunity in Sri Lanka and help create peace and justice for all the people of Sri Lanka.