Posts Tagged ‘Fadwa Suleiman’

11th Human Rights Film Festival starts 1st March in Geneva with a bang that upsets Sri Lanka

February 26, 2013

Since 2003, the Geneva Human Rights Film Festival (with the more complicated French name and abbreviation: le Festival du film et forum international sur les droits humains – FIFDH) takes place in parallel to the UN Human Rights Council. Based on the concept “A film, a subject, a debate”, the FIFDH features documentary as well fiction, on themes linked to human rights such as: violence against women, poverty, torture, international justice and even climate change.  During 10 days the public is invited to watch the films, meet film makers, actors, experts and victims of human rights violations. There are special screenings for students, and teachers are issued with thematic material.  This year a total of 40 films will be screened. New this year is the competition for international fiction. The Jury includes filmmakers and human rights defenders such as:  Ai Weiwei, Patrick Chapatte, Romain Goupil and Fadwa Suleiman, Syrian actress in exile. The longstanding festival director is Leo Kaneman: for the programme see: http://www.fifdh.org/

In the meantime, a big controversy has erupted about the showing of the documentary  “No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka”  in what is called in UN terminology a ‘side event’, organised by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and the above-mentioned FIFDH, on the premises of the UN. As reported by AP on 25 February, the Sri Lankan Ambassador has sent a letter to the whole Human Rights Council denouncing the film as “discredited, uncorroborated and unsubstantiated” and warning that the Council would be violating its own rules if the film is screened March 1 in Geneva as planned.

The 90-minute documentary alleges government troops and Tamil Tiger rebels engaged in war crimes during the final stages of the conflict in 2009. The film shows interviews with eyewitnesses and original footage of alleged atrocities against civilians including summary execution, sexual violence and torture. The film director Callum Macrae denied that it distorted the facts: “We believe that our film contains very important evidence about the terrible events in the last few months of this war and we believe we have a duty to make that evidence available to the diplomats and country missions at the U.N. Human Rights Council who must make important decisions about how to ensure accountability and justice in Sri Lanka“. See:  http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/sri-lanka-opposes-screening-critical-film-18590958. The Sri Lankan Ambassador’s letter which certainly will help to attract a larger audience is to be found on: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/465065/Letter-to-the-President-Human-Rights-Council-2.pdf.