Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields

Jon Snow presents a forensic investigation into the final weeks of the quarter-century-long civil war between the government of Sri Lanka and the secessionist rebels, the Tamil Tigers.

With disturbing and distressing descriptions and film of executions, atrocities and the shelling of civilians the programme features devastating new video evidence of war crimes – some of the most horrific footage Channel 4 has ever broadcast.

Captured on mobile phones, both by Tamils under attack and government soldiers as war trophies, the disturbing footage shows: the extra-judicial executions of prisoners; the aftermath of targeted shelling of civilian camps; and dead female Tamil fighters who appear to have been raped or sexually assaulted, abused and murdered.

The film is made and broadcast as UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon faces growing criticism for refusing to launch an investigation into ‘credible allegations’ that Sri Lankan forces committed war crimes during the closing weeks of the bloody conflict with the Tamil Tigers.

In April 2011, Ban Ki-moon published a report by a UN-appointed panel of experts, which concluded that as many as 40,000 people were killed in the final weeks of the war between the Tamil Tigers and government forces.

It called for the creation of an international mechanism to investigate alleged violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law committed by government forces and the Tamil Tigers during that time.

This film provides powerful evidence that will lend new urgency to the panel’s call for an international inquiry to be mounted, including harrowing interviews with eye-witnesses, new photographic stills, official Sri Lankan army video footage, and satellite imagery.

Also examined in the film are some of the horrific atrocities carried out by the Tamil Tigers, who used civilians as human shields.

Channel 4 News has consistently reported on the bloody denouement of Sri Lanka’s civil war. Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields presents a further damning account of the actions of Sri Lankan forces, in a war that the government still insists was conducted with a policy of Zero Civilian Casualties.

The film raises serious questions about the consequences if the UN fails to act, not only with respect to Sri Lanka but also to future violations of international law.

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  1. Just like Udayanga, who commented down below, I am a Sri Lankan Sinhalese too. This documentary is too distressing to watch, and can’t help but feel some guilt, though I was only a teenager when the. War ended. However, it is important to point out that, in the documentary, I feel like there are quite a few doctored videos, though some of them are real. I definitely can sympathise with both sides. We were battered by terrorism for nearly 3 decades. We know people who got bombed by LTTE; for example, the whole Hokey team of my school died from one such blast in Colombo. A bomb went off not more than three KM from my house. And a church got bombed where I used to meet my ex-girlfriend. It is strange, but this was a part of our existence at some point. Most of the soldiers of the government forces were boys from rural villages, bordering tiger-held areas, and they had seen tiger raids into their villages and killing, in places like Ampara, and Vawniya. The absolute hatred the government-led forces had towards the Tigers can thus be justified in a certain sense, though killing of any form, as a pacifist myself, is atrocious. But I can say with 100% certainty, Sinhalese are not anti-Tamil, or in other words, we don’t hate Tamils, Muslims for that matter, though the situation has changed somewhat since the easer bombings in 2019. this was not a civil war, this was a terrorist war, period. Pray, tell me, how are you supposed to defeat an enemy, if that enemy is hiding behind a civilian and shooting at you, which is exactly what they did at Madu.
    Targeting hospitals was not a good, horrendous crime. And a word about the white UN officials. I am not sure what strings the tigers were pulling, but they were taking the side of the Tamils while taking every opportunity to stop the end of the war and to prolong it. They never had the same sort of sympathy with east-Timorese, for example, because Sukarno of Indonesia, was their ally. They never shed any tears over the fate of civilians in Libya, Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine, Yemen, and Afghanistan who Americans bombed into tiny little pieces. So Un officials don’t come shedding your crocodile tears. Well, who am I typing this comment for? Those UN bastards are not going to read it anyway. I accuse them of war crimes too. Remember, the hight of the civil war in Sri Lanka neatly coincided with the hight of the war on terrorism in the middle east too.

  2. See what happens to a disarmed and defenseless population when only the benevolent government has all the arms.

  3. UN you yellow fucking bastards you had drones watching all of this and did nothing shame on you for leaving them in the first place how fuck up is that you guys have a army of the coalition forces with heavy duty fire power you werre posted there to keep the peace you left and all hell broke loose, I hope you are hunted by these images for the rest of your pathetic lives !

  4. You know nothing, Jon Snow

  5. I do accept as true with all of the ideas you have presented for your post. They are really convincing and can definitely work. Still, the posts are very brief for starters. Could you please prolong them a bit from subsequent time? Thank you for the post.

  6. Channel 4 get money from LTTE to publish this big lies. They never show what LTTE does and kill thousands passed 30 years in Sri Lanka. every family live in Sri Lanka lost some one because of this busterd leader of LTTE. We all know UK was deviding contries like cutting a cake. That is why most of wars between coutries face today. I suggest to Channel 4 to show those too..

  7. good viewing! sad story, bloody government! soo inspirational I wrote a song about it!

  8. I am white and from UK so my opinion should not really matter. For family reasons Sri Lanka is very special to  us. In many ways Sri lanka is more advanced than the west ; for example its universal primary education school policy. The Sri Lankan sense of fairness and generosity is hard to describe to someone who has not benefited from it.
    I watched this documentary and it saddens me that a country I hold as dear to me as my own could tear itself apart in this way. The thought of war crimes by such a fundamentally decent people means that this is possible anywhere. Unfortunately I do not think this will see international scrutiny. There is no oil in Sri Lanka and south east asians do not seem to have a high value in the eyes of  the UN.

  9. The world we live in sickings me,  The UN are a joke the west is a joke. We spend millions upon millions on so called protecting civilans in libya(within weeks of the outbreak of war) but do nothing for the civilians of this brutal war..why? because theres no money in it for us(the west) Am sure both sides commited terrible crimes but Udana my friend that no excuse, biased or not what we see here is just pure evil and crule. As a race humans to not deserve to live on this beautiful planet of ours. The world is ruled by hate and money nothing more. There is no God or Gods there is no real freedom, just greed and hatred. We are a species doomed and the quicker the better for the sake of are beautiful planet. Anaimals treat each other with more respect and care than we do. And they say we are he most inteligent form of life ha what a joke. No wonder we havent been visited by other inteligent life who the hell would want to bring us into the universe. What so we could preach and kill in the name of or so called Gods and plunder what ever we find to useful.

  10. I agree, brilliant documentary indeed.  
    Udana Udayanga, please be don’t be so defensive.

    • This documentary is far from brilliant, as Channel 4 has decided to be biased in it’s reporting. This documentary would have been more creditible if they also revealed the crimes the Tamil Tigers committed.

  11. I would like to ask from People who watch this documentary to watch the following Video as well. Because this channel 4 documentary is full of lies and very biased.

    This is the reply from Sri Lanka Government to channel 4 documentry:

  12. I would have appreciated more information revealing the crimes that the Tamil Tigers committed during these events. I felt the documentary was very biased from one perspective.

    • It says in the description there is evidence that they too committed war crimes, but, like you, I only feel that I saw the crimes committed by the Government. 

  13. Brilliant Documentary, a true eye opener