Four years ago after the bloody conclusion to Sri Lanka's long civil war a new documentary by grantee Callum Macrae, "No Fire Zone," tells the brutal story of what happened when Tamil civilians were herded into what the government and UN officials had promised to be safe havens.
Macrae and his colleagues are in the final hours of a Kickstarter campaign aimed at creating global awareness of the film and its message, in advance of the Commonwealth meetings that Sri Lanka is scheduled to host this fall.
In the video above, Macrae introduces the investigation into what he says the Sinhalese government of Sri Lanka thought would be a "war without witness," purging the country of UN aid and international press and silencing in the process Sri Lanka's own media. Macrae discusses the final days of the civil war between the Sinhalese government and the Tamil Tigers, and the early reaction to a film that relies on hours of footage from those trapped inside what they thought were protected zones and from soldiers who took trophy images to memorialize their actions.
We have been asked to do screenings from Auckland to Argentina for politicians and student groups and we want to get to them all to make sure every country has the chance to see this film. We've achieved a lot with our set of brilliant partners - www.nofirezone.org/partners - but we need to do much much more and you can be part of the next stage.
We want an international independent investigation.
We need to show "No Fire Zone" to as many audiences as possible around the world. The government of Sri Lanka is trying to stop us at every turn even saying our footage is faked. (It isn't - it has all been carefully authenticated. Key evidential footage was analysed by independent forensic experts and has also been verified as genuine by the UN). The government has attacked our partners and used expensive lobbying firms to counter our claims.
But we are determined to get the truth out. This is a tour about truth and justice for all the Sri Lankan people; this film can make a difference.
This year already more countries than ever before voted on a resolution at the UN Human Rights Council calling on Sri Lanka to strengthen its human rights situation and investigate resposiibility for war crimes.
On May 18—a day of mourning for Tamils around the world—Macrae was in Ethiopia for a screening of "No Fire Zone." He wrote:
Tonight I was at a screening of the film as part of the Addis international film festival, here in Ethiopia.
No Fire Zone is never an easy film to watch - but to watch it today was particularly painful and sad. The terrible events that took place exactly four years ago today - the executions, the sexual violence, the torture - as well as the final stages of the massacre of innocent civilians - are brought home even more sharply by this fourth anniversary
But the message is getting through, I believe.