Thursday, 27 February 2014

INTERVIEW WITH CALLUM MACRAE, London based journalist and documentary film maker

He produced 'No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka’ documentary that talks about war crimes in Sri Lanka

Blind support to Colombo can boomerang on India: Callum Macrae

Chennai, February 24:  Slamming the Indian ban on the screening of his much-acclaimed documentary ‘No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka’, celebrated journalist-documentary maker Callum Macrae said such softness towards Colombo in trying to even ignore serious human rights violations during the final phase of the Eelam war could boomerang on India’s long-term interests in the region.

Reacting to the Indian censor board refusing certificate for his documentary, Mr Macrae said one of the grounds cited by the censor board was that allowing its public showing would ‘strain friendly relations with Sri Lanka’. “I am afraid it is impossible to see this as anything other than an act of overt political censorship. There was no suggestion that this (refusal) was because the film was wrong in what it says. The accuracy of our journalism has been vindicated at every stage by independent examination and by the continuing emergence of more video evidence”, he told me in an e-mail interview from his London office.

“In effect, this ban is an act of short-term political expediency. It was an attempt to smooth over relations with the Rajapaksa regime. The problem is the long-term effect”, Mr Macrae cautioned. “The fact is that without truth, you cannot have justice and without justice, you cannot easily move forward to peace, political solutions and reconciliation. And so, despite difficulties, India has to take the lead”.
If India chose to become part of the attempts to prevent truth from coming out, it would slow down the progress towards justice and political solutions. “That is not in India’s interest; nor is it in the interests of ordinary decent Sri Lankans, of all ethnic backgrounds who just want to live in peace and harmony”, said Mr Macrae, whose documentary has already been seen by thousands of viewers on YouTube and select screens across the world, such as the UNHCR venue during the last Geneva session.

The documentary shocked the world after UK’s Channel 4 played it through several TV stations, and triggered an increased cry for international investigation of alleged war crimes during the final phase of Eelam war, when an estimated 40000 civilians were killed. Mr Macrae’s team was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize last year.

Sri Lanka, however, dismissed the documentary as falsehood sewed up by clever manipulation of irrelevant images through technology, sponsored by pro-LTTE elements in the Tamil Diaspora. Mr Macrae in his DC interview reiterated that his film was “three years of investigation” and had been “subjected to the closest scrutiny”. Detailing the extensive ‘scrutiny’, he said: “The fact is that our film tells the truth…we are merely one of the messengers of that truth. Attacking us will not change that”.