Posts Tagged ‘No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka’

Malaysia: Human rights defender Lena Hendry convicted for showing film on Sri Lanka

February 23, 2017

In 2013 I reported on human rights defender, Lena Hendry, in Malaysia who was charged with showing the film “No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka, a film on human rights violations in Sri Lanka.  [see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2013/09/18/human-rights-worker-in-malaysia-to-appear-in-court-tomorrow-for-screening-the-film-no-fire-zone/#more-3469]. Now Front Line reports on 21 February 2017, that the human rights defender was convicted by the Magistrate’s Court in Kuala Lumpur [https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/profile/lena-hendry]. On 21 February 2017, Lena Hendry was found guilty by a magistrate’s court in Kuala Lumpur for screening “No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka” under Section 6 of the Film Censorship Act 2002. She is currently on bail and intends to appeal the court’s decision. Her sentencing is scheduled for 22 March 2017.

Lena Hendry is the former Programme Coordinator for Pusat KOMAS, a human rights organisation established in 1993 in Malaysia. This organisation works to empower indigenous peoples, poor people in urban areas, workers, and civil society organisations through the use of popular media. [On 10 March 2016, The Magistrates’ Court of Kuala Lumpur acquitted Lena Hendry of the charges but  on 21 September 2016, the High Court in Kuala Lumpur reversed Lena Hendry’s aquittal following an appeal issued by the prosecution.

Front Line Defenders condemns the conviction of Lena Hendry, as it believes that the charges brought against the human rights defender are directly linked to her legitimate and peaceful work in the defence of human rights, in particular in exposing human rights violations in Sri Lanka. Front Line Defenders urges the Malaysian government to repeal provisions of the Film Censorship Act 2002 that allow unnecessary and arbitrary government interference in the showing of films in Malaysia.

 

 

 

 

Documentary Filmmakers and Human Rights Defenders: the Impact Awards

November 22, 2014

A blog that pride itself to follow with special interest what is happening in the area of film making and human rights defenders, cannot pass up this post by Queen Noor of Jordan in the Huffington Post of 21 November 2014: “Today, as the winners of the 2014 Impact Award are announced, is a good day to honour the work of documentary filmmakers everywhere. In particular, their role in documenting, highlighting and explaining human rights abuses and human rights protests even in places that western journalists cannot reach.” The growing availability of cheap small recording devices over the past years has been a major development for filmmakers and human rights defenders, allowing stories to emerge even from ‘difficult’ countries.

no fire zone

(No Fire Zone – one of the winners of BRITDOC Impact Award 2014)

Four years ago, when I was part of the first Impact Award jury, we gave a special mention to the film Burma VJ. I was struck by the bravery of the Burmese video journalists who were able to capture the striking images of the Saffron Revolution. 

This year, the Impact Award is honouring No Fire Zone, which examines the closing days of the Sri Lankan civil war against the Tamil Tigers, a deeply shocking account of an assault against civilians, which premiered at the United Nations Human Rights Council and played a crucial role in the Council’s decision this year to finally order an independent review of the death of 70,000 civilians. [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2013/02/26/11th-human-rights-film-festival-starts-1st-march-in-geneva-with-a-bang-that-upsets-sri-lanka/]

Other films being awarded this year are: GranitoBlackfishAmerican Promise and The House I Live In.

Documentary Filmmakers Piece Together The Truth | Queen Noor of Jordan.

Human rights worker in Malaysia to appear in court tomorrow for screening the film “No Fire Zone”

September 18, 2013

On July 3, 2013, Komas program officer Ms Lena Hendry, Executive Director Mr Arul Prakkash and one of the Board of Directors, Ms Anna Har, were arrested during the screening of the film “No Fire Zone, the Killing Fields of Sri Lanka”. MSN Malaysia reports: that today the KDN issued a notice informing Komas that Ms Lena Hedry would be charged and for her to appear in the Magistrate court tomorrow, 19 September Read the rest of this entry »

Sri Lanka and the war-time massacres: how ideally the Government should react

March 4, 2013

In one of my posts of last week I referred to the panicked, knee-jerk reaction of the Sri Lankan Government to the showing of the film  No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka  at the UN in Geneva. Now I have come across a much more reasonable and constructive reaction published in the Sri Lankan The Island of 1 march 2013. The whole piece is worth reading; here follow just some excerpts for those pressed for time:

Every time, the United Nations Human Rights Council meets in session or one of the international Human Rights Organizations issues a statement on violations of human rights in Sri Lanka, the government of Sri Lanka gets into a combat mode. Their response follows the rule that attack is the best form of defence. The attack takes the form of personal abuse directed at the human rights defenders; there is no attempt to meet the issues of violations that have been raised. Its apologists and other hangers-on merely follow suit with hysterical outbursts against the United Nations, the international community and the local human rights defenders. None of them seem to care to read the reports released by the Office of the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights or by the different human rights organizations. Their criticism of the reports is therefore not informed and raises more issues than clarifying any. Mahinda Samarasinghe [the SL Ambassador] is normally not prone to such hysterical responses; his speech at the current sessions of the UNHRC therefore seems untypical of him.article_image Read the rest of this entry »

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.