“SRI LANKA’S KILLING FIELDS” Part 2
Posted on May 24th, 2018

KAMALIKA PIERIS

Channel 4 issued a second version of it’s ‘war crimes’ video, with the title, Sri Lanka’s Killing fields”. It was telecast on 14 June 2011.  The documentary was made by ITN Productions and presented by Jon Snow, of Channel 4 News using a dossier compiled by Channel Four.

The footage consisted of three segments. The first segment showed the   summary execution of bound,  blindfolded, and naked Tamils by Sri Lankan soldiers. Second segment showed images of dead females who may have been sexual assaulted and the third showed suffering civilians in the conflict zone. The images contained in the footage are truly gruesome and shocking, irrespective of whether the incidents are ‘real’ or ‘staged’ ones,   agreed viewers.

The documentary was watched by an estimated 700,000 to 1 million viewers and drew a lot of publicity. Channel 4 waived its international copyright, and viewers outside UK could view the documentary on its on-demand service and via YouTube. This was an unusual move. The documentary was subsequently broadcast in Australia, India, and Norway in July 2011 and drew comments. It was discussed in the UK and Australian parliaments. .  Former Sri Lanka President Chandrika Kumaratunga also recognized the film.

This film was shown at the 17th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, June 2011 in Geneva, with much advance publicity.  Thereafter, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch,  and  International Crisis Group screened   the film at the Congressional Auditorium, Washington, D.C. on 15 July 2011 to an audience of senators, congressmen, officials and diplomats. The film was then shown at the European Parliament, Brussels on 12 October 2011.

The film won several awards. It won Amnesty International’s media award 2011 and two One World Media Awards in 2012 in the categories “Television” and “Documentary”. The film won Royal Television Society‘s Television Journalism Awards 2010/2011 in the ‘Current Affairs, International’ category. RTS called it a “meticulous investigative documentary” and “a unique, disturbing, and convincing account of what was supposed to be a war carried out well away from public view”.  In 2012, the film was nominated for a BAFTA TV Award in “Current Affairs”

The film was also heavily criticized. Serena Davies reviewing for Telegraph asked what was the purpose of viewers being exposed to such horror and why focus on   the British public? Should untutored members of another nation, on the other side of the world and with no claims now over its former colony, watch these squalid little films? Surely these are a matter for the experts, for the international arbiters of justice and human rights. . TV with its sensationalizing soundtrack and its graphic intimacy was not the correct medium for such highly political information, concluded Davies.

Columnist A. A.  Gill, reviewing the documentary in  Sunday Times (London) said the footage was unattributed and uncorroborated”. Not a second of this has been shot by Channel 4. None of the eyewitness accounts comes from journalists”. He criticized Jon Snow’s narration as “intemperate and partisan”, and stated that “it was all held together by assumptions”.

Shyam Tekwani an expert in terrorism & media at the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies, US Department of Defense, compared the “tone and tenor” of the documentary to that of productions by the LTTE’s propaganda wing. “Clearly an effort to sensationalize and shock with carefully selected and edited footage, the documentary weakens its case and invites an investigation into its own credibility and accountability to journalistic norms. The volume of testimony it uses as evidence is not enormous and most of it is derived from leading questions. The slant is pronounced,” said Tekwani    who has extensively covered the Sri Lankan conflict.

Siri Hewavitharana ,former head of Cisco’s Global Broadcast and Digital Video Practice division  and presently the Executive Director of IPTV Systems in Sydney, Australia, is one of the world’s leading experts on digital video systems recorded his slangy comments in Asian Tribune, June 6, 2011.

This is the old video clip with added drama but this video is worse than the previous one, said Hewavitharana. The whole video is fake, he said. The   video has been done by ‘hired guns with an agenda’, who are not however experts in video. The technical foot print is identical on both videos indicating it is edited by the same software and by the same idiot.

The video is taken by video camera not by a mobile phone.  It is using an optical zoom which is not available in any mobile camera to date.  The US based video specialist Grant Fredericks, hired by Christof Heyns to analyze the video, also said the video never came from a mobile phone it was a high quality video from video camera edited using Philips editing software.

Video editing is so obvious that all it needs is to look into the video end to see more than one video layer. Audio is also not synchronized in with the video. The 17 frames of video that Spivack had said were inconsistent with the original video could be easily explained. This anomaly was created by a new video wrapper that tried to convert from original video camera to the mobile video format, concluded Hewavitharana .

Sri Lanka Ministry of Defence produced a counter documentary titled ‘Lies Agreed Upon’ in August 2011, as a response to the allegations made in Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields”. It disproves disproving the claims made by Channel 4.  This systematically took up the issues discussed in Killing field documentary and showed each issue to be false. It features interviews from former LTTE cadres, eyewitnesses of the final stages of the war, the Tamil doctors who had worked in the hospitals mentioned, and women and girls in refugee camps. The documentary implied that the LTTE may have executed the Government Security Forces personnel it was holding prisoner.

My observations on this video is that is very weak, starting with the choice of presenter, the charming Minoli Ratnayake, who is the very opposite of Jon Snow of Channel Four. This was not a cookery programme nor about Power Women, this is politics. Sri Lanka has many skilled documentary producers and dynamic presenters who could have made an effective documentary on the subject. Further, the presentation is too academic, with emphasis on facts. It is not at all cinematic and is quite boring. However, the points made are very important.

However, there was a better reply. On 1 July 2011 Swarnavahini, a privately owned Sri Lankan TV station, broadcast on their Live at 8 programme what they claimed to be the original version used on the Channel 4 documentary showing uniformed men summarily executing eight bound and blindfolded men. In the version broadcast by Swarnavahini the men in uniform were speaking in .This Tamil version was not new .it had appeared on YouTube shortly after the Channel 4 News had originally broadcast the Sinhala version on 25 August 2009. An investigation by a UN commissioned panel of independent experts found that the Sinhala version was authentic, said Wikipedia.

Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission” (LLRC) which sat from May 2011 to November 2011, decided to look at this video. LLRC observed that no person appearing before the Commission had referred to the Channel 4 Video or to the allegations contained therein,  but the Commission nevertheless considered the material relevant to its Warrant.

Commission wrote to the Independent Television Network (ITN), United Kingdom requesting a copy of the original broadcast footage and whatever other information the Network can share with the Commission including the dates, location etc related to the alleged incidents. The Network did not send a copy of the original broadcast video but gave permission for the LLRC to download it from the Channel 4 News Website. LLRC therefore had to use the video available in the public internet domain. The non-availability of a direct copy of the broadcast footage hampered in the conclusive clarification of such technical ambiguities observed LLRC.

The LLRC obtained an opinion from Dr. Chathura de Silva, Director of the Centre for Instructional Technology and Senior Lecturer, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka. His view is that segments (of the video) appear to have been recorded in a natural environment but that at least some events are staged ones and that there is much manipulation and tampering.

Dr. Chathura de Silva said, Video footages are not authentic in terms of integrity of the media files and the authenticity of their content. The events shown in these footages are staged, manipulated with special digital effects and finally trans- coded to a mobile format to depict as being recorded through a mobile phone. There is no evidence to determine that the scene background depicted in the footage in general is computer generated or created in a studio environment. The segment of the footage appeared to be recorded in a natural environment.  Some of the bodies of alleged victims portrayed in the footage show no artifacts of manipulation either physically or through digital special effects. However fresh blood stains in the nearby ground showed evidences of using blood substitutes.”

LLRC decided a further independent technical opinion should be obtained They obtained the services of Professor E. A. Yfantis, Professor of Computer Science,  the University of Nevada, USA, and Director of the ICIS Laboratory. Professor Yfantis who is an expert in the field of digital image processing with vast experience in consulting for governmental and private sector organizations in the USA including NASA.

Yfantis in his report states that ‘based on mathematical analysis, blood in the 3GP videos is not real blood. It is not clear if the blood in the 3GP scenes is water with red dye or digitally constructed or edited video blood.’ He further states that videographic and mathematical analysis of the two 3GP videos show that the videos either were edited, or staged, or both” and the report concludes that the Careful analysis of the two 3GP videos which included both frame by frame visual inspection as well as the robust mathematical attributes of the video frames, has led us to the conclusion that this is a very deliberate and orchestrated video.” The report also detailed the fact that the video file was named “produce.3gp”, suggesting that the video file may have been a result of some form of video editing software.

LLRC stated in its report, Commission finds that there are troubling technical and forensic questions of a serious nature that cast significant doubts about the authenticity of this video and the credibility and reliability of its content. LLRC   observed that the reports obtained by the government of Sri Lanka and the UN Rapporteurs in Geneva, point to several technical ambiguities in the video which remain un-clarified. The LLRC independent experts, Dr. Chathura de Silva and Prof. E. A. Yfantis also cast significant doubts about the authenticity of the video, especially the probability of electronic tampering and the artificial construction of the ‘blood effect’ in the video. Trauma evident on the bodies of victims does not appear to be consistent with the type of weapon used and the close range at which the firing is seen to have taken place added LLRC.

The Commission shares some of the significant doubts expressed on the integrity of the video and feels strongly that if that were to be the case, whoever constructed the video and the organization that broadcast it should be held responsible for a serious instance of gross disinformation. If the footage has been artificially constructed or the incidents are staged as contended by several experts, the issue becomes even more serious and the need to establish facts of this case, equally compelling. Such conduct would constitute grave damage and injustice to the people of Sri Lanka and to those soldiers who fought professionally and sacrificed their lives in order to save other innocent lives from the LTTE stranglehold.

The Commission therefore recommends that the Government of Sri Lanka institute an independent investigation into this issue with a view to establishing the truth or otherwise of these allegations and take action in accordance with the laws of the land. Equally, the Commission feels that arrangements should be made to ensure and facilitate the confidentiality and protection of information and informants. The Commission strongly urges all those concerned, especially the organizations that provided the original images and the broadcasting organization, to extend fullest cooperation by providing the necessary information to facilitate this work.

Channel  Four   undaunted, then produced a third version titled  Sri Lanka’s killing fields: War Crimes Unpunished” .This film was a sequel to  the  previous film, Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields., with new evidence concerning the final days of the conflict. This was a commissioned follow-up film, this documentary focused on four specific cases. . This documentary was broadcast on 14 March 2012 at 10.55pm to coincide with the 19th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva.

James Walton noticed, in review for Telegraph that the original film had been denounced in Sri Lanka as a sloppy piece of reporting. So in this documentary they had proceeded carefully. The Independent‘s Tom Sutcliffe described the documentary as “essentially a work of frustration, a reiteration of the original charges and a repeat of a call for action that went nowhere last time” though it did have some new facts.

The Sri Lankan High Commission in London issued a statement on 15 March 2012 which accused the documentary of broadcasting “highly spurious and uncorroborated allegations” and of falsely implicating members of the Sri Lankan government and senior military figures. The Sri Lankan military condemned the documentary as “sensationalism” saying that most of its contents weren’t new, they had been broadcast on the first documentary

One  year later, came  a fourth film No Fire Zone, the Killing Fields of Sri Lanka. No Fire Zone was  directed by the Nobel Peace Prize nominee Callum Macrae,[7] a Peabody and Colombia Dupont Broadcast Journalism Award winner and Greirson and BAFTA nominee. Callum Macrae said in  interview that though the release comes not long after the Panel of Experts’ report was published, that was a coincidence, and we were clearly researching at the same time. I think it’s significant that we both reached virtually identical conclusions.

My job is to investigate the facts and get to the truth of what happened and tell the story, whether or not those crimes were committed by the Sri Lankan government, the Tamil Tigers (LTTE) or the United Kingdom. I’ve made quite a few films which relate to extrajudicial executions and torture fact the last two major films I made dealt with allegations against British troops in Iraq.

The documentary was broadcast on 14 March 2012 at 10.55pm in UK to coincide with the 19th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva. It was also shown at the 10th International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights No fire Zone” was released online for free in India and Malaysia as well as Sri Lanka and Nepal.

No Fire Zone has been described as something of an international phenomenon., said Wikipedia. Not just an agenda setting investigation, but a cinematic tour de force – a stunning and disturbing film in its own right. It was described as “beautifully crafted and heart wrenching” by the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting in Washington, “utterly convincing” by the Globe and Mail in Toronto – and in the UK, Empire noted: “It is vitally important that this feature reaches the widest possible audience”. One critic in Australia described it as the most devastating film I have seen”, whilst the London Film Review says “No Fire Zone shocks on every level. It shocks, it educates, and it convinces.”  British Prime Minister, David Cameron,  said ”No Fire Zone is one of the most chilling documentaries I’ve watched. It has won many awards and is a nominee for an International Emmy Award 2014. No Fire Zone (TV version) was nominated for Best Documentary at the 2014 International Emmy Awards[ and was awarded the Britdoc Impact Award .

Here are some of its awards. Festival des Libertes 2013 – Winner of FIDH Best Film Award./CPH:DOX Copenhagen 2013 – FACT Award Jury Special Mention/ Nuremberg Film Festival 2013 – Winner of Audience Award/ WatchDocs Poland 2014 – Winner of Audience Award/ One World Film Festival Prague 2014 – Winner Václav Havel Jury Special Mention./ Docudays UA – Kiev 2014 – Winner of Jury Special Mention./Festival internacional de Cine y Video de Derochos Humanos Buenos Aires 2013 – Winner Jury Special Mention. The film received special jury mention at Film South Asia 2013/ Docudays UA – Kiev 2014/as well as being shortlisted for a Grierson award.

The Government of Sri Lanka  had, according to Channel Four, tried unsuccessfully to stop the film Zone being screened at the Film south Asia festival in Nepal. The Festival had instead shown the film twice. In Malaysia, despite the film having already been screened at the Malaysian parliament, a private human rights organization screening of the film in Kuala Lumpur was raided and the organizers arrested.

In November 2014 the producers released an updated version of the film containing new evidence, including footage showing the capture, alive, of the LTTE TV presenter Isaipriya. Previously the Sri Lankan government had claimed she had died in battle.

This update also included an interview with one of the Tamil doctors who had been trapped in the No Fire Zone. During the war the doctors told the world of the terrible conditions in the No Fire Zone, but after the war they were arrested and he held by the Sri Lankan Criminal Investigation Department. While in captivity they were forced to appear at a stage managed government press conference and deny everything they said from the war zone. In this interview – a longer version of which appeared on Channel 4 news in the UK – the most senior of the doctors revealed that he and the other doctors had been forced by Sri Lankan military intelligence to change their story – and confirmed that what they had said from the war zone was indeed accurate.

In January 2015 it was announced that the producers were working on a Sinhala language version of the film to be released later that month. Also in January 2015, following the defeat of President Rajapaksa in Sri Lanka’s presidential election, the film was re-released with a further update in time for a US campus tour organized by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting starting in February 2015. There is a fourth film  issued by Channel Four, titled Revisiting Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields”  issued on Jan 26, 2016  But this is not on ‘Killing Fields’, it is about ‘Missing Persons’. ( continued)

3 Responses to ““SRI LANKA’S KILLING FIELDS” Part 2”

  1. Christie Says:

    Christie Says:
    May 23rd, 2018 at 6:24 am
    This rubbish was broad cast and eagerly watched by Indian Parasites in UK.
    When I contacted C4 and asked them about the film I was told by who ever answered me at the end that it was not made by them.
    Most of their shows are outsourced.
    What ever it is they should take the responsibility.
    UK has more thanthree million Indian parasites and more than 20 MPs.
    Some of the richest in UK are Indians and they provide funds to all political parties and politicians.
    PM May is Abisheked but Modi is not Baptised.

  2. Hiranthe Says:

    The only way to hit back is to find the evidence of payment by LieTTE to these selfish jounalists and file makers to prove that they are agents of LieTTE

    If we can focus on that, who knows, there will be an opportunity!!

  3. Cerberus Says:

    The truth about the C4 video is that the LTTE killed captured soldiers and then made a video, dubbed it in Sinhala and showed it as the doings of the GoSL. The West went along with it because they wanted to humiliate and remove the Rajapaksa Govt. Please see the original video undubbed and the dubbed one in the link below under CH4 – UK. Please download the videos since the link will be removed soon.

    http://www.terrorinlanka.com

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