One of the great mysteries of how news organizations work is how they rate news.
The Middle East and Afghanistan feature daily in every major newspaper around the globe, yet Sri Lanka’s bloody conflict just doesn’t rate the same page space or airtime. How come? It’s been a horrible few decades for that tragic nation, yet the coverage is usually limited to a couple of little paragraphs outlining the briefest news.
Channel 4’s recent documentary Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields will hopefully change that. It shows the brutality of the Singhalese army against Tamil civilians in the last push to eliminate the Tamil Tigers in 2009. As brutal an expose as any I’ve ever seen, the programme airs the kind of footage that’s usually edited out because it would hurt viewer’s sensibilities. And in fact it does hurt viewer’s sensibilities - in fact it blows our sensibilities out of the water.
Many of the shots were taken by mobile phones and under heavy fire. But the most appalling scenes were shot by soldiers as war trophies. Watch it and you’ll never forget it.
Our partner Groundviews, the award winning news site from Sri Lanka, interviewed the film’s director Callum McCrea who was present when the film was shown in New York and defended by two of the regime’s representatives.
As long as the media shuns important stories like this, the international community won’t give the necessary push for war crimes to come to light and to justice. And the people who perpetuate those crimes will go unpunished while suffering communities will never be able to come to terms with what happened to them.