SANSAD News-release, February 24. 2014
Deplore India’s ban on film depicting genocide in Sri Lanka
The Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) of India has on February 23 refused a censor certificate to No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka, the acclaimed documentary by Callum Macrae on the last days of the war between Sri Lankan military and the LTTE in 2009. The grounds for this denial of certification for theatre release are that the film has visuals of a “disturbing nature” and that it “may strain friendly relations with Sri Lanka.”
It is not surprising that a film documenting the genocide that took some 70,000 lives, including the killing in captivity of the LTTE leader’s young son, should have some visuals of a “disturbing nature.” It is precisely this evidence that has made the film a powerful indictment of the war crimes committed by the Sri Lankan forces and made it a valuable instrument in mobilizing international opinion in favor of an independent inquiry into the charge of war crimes. For this reason the Sri Lankan government, which has resolutely opposed such investigation has tried to suppress the film. It recently attempted to stop the screening of the film in the Film Southasia festival in Kathmandu, Nepal.
In banning the theatre screening of the film the CBFC has yet again fulfilled its deplorable function as the state’s instrument for the suppression of politically inconvenient films. This was indeed the reason for which this body was initially set up by the British colonial administration in India. It is yet another colonial inheritance that the Indian state continues to use to suppress rights and liberties of citizens in India. South Asian Network for Secularism and Democracy (SANSAD), an organization of South Asian diaspora based in Vancouver, British Columbia, strongly protests the ban on Callum Macrae’s courageous, truthful, and profoundly disturbing film on one of the worst crimes against humanity n recent years.
We congratulate Amnesty International India for their protest against this ban and wholeheartedly join them in their demand that the CBFC and the Government of India “swiftly remove the ban on the film” (The Hindu, February 24, 2014). We applaud Macrae and his producer for their decision to resist the ban by making the film available for free on-line streaming in India.
South Asian Network for Secularism and Democracy, (SANSAD), 2779 Commercial Drive, Vancouver, BC; www.sansad.org