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Amnesty International USA Groups 19, 35 and 466 held a screening of the documentary "Sri Lanka's Killing Fields" in Palo Alto, California on February 18, 2012. While the film is not an Amnesty film, Amnesty International considers that "Sri Lanka's Killing Fields" contains important, credible evidence of human rights abuses, including possible war crimes, committed by the Sri Lankan security forces in the final months of Sri Lanka's civil war. For that reason, Amnesty has been sponsoring screenings of the film in New York, Boston, Chicago and other places around the U.S. Amnesty International believes that the evidence in this film should be considered by an independent international investigation into reported war crimes and other human rights abuses committed by both sides during the war in Sri Lanka.
Amnesty International is an impartial organization working on behalf of victims of human rights violations around the world. In Sri Lanka, Amnesty has repeatedly condemned human rights abuses committed by the security forces as well as those committed by the opposition Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. This point was made during the February 18 screening.
During the post-screening discussion, some participants asked that portions of a counter-documentary produced by the Sri Lankan government, "Lies Agreed Upon," be immediately shown at the event. While Amnesty believes that "Sri Lanka's Killing Fields" contains important evidence to be considered by an international investigation, we do not have the same position with respect to the Sri Lankan government's counter-documentary. Furthermore, AIUSA Groups 19, 35 and 466 were not familiar with the counter-documentary and reasonably declined to show any film until they had first reviewed it. The event moderator publicly suggested to the advocates for "Lies Agreed Upon" that they inform the other attendees as to where "Lies Agreed Upon" could be found on the Internet, which the advocates declined to do.
A question was then raised during the discussion about a $50,000 donation made last year to the Canadian section of Amnesty International by the Canadian Tamil Congress. The suggestion made by the questioner was that Amnesty International could not be impartial with regard to Sri Lanka given this donation. In response, the public statement issued by AI Canada with regard to this donation was cited (see http://www.amnesty.ca/media2010.php?DocID=1309). The public statement points out, among other things, that the donation was given with no conditions that it be used for work on Sri Lanka, that the funds will be used to support a variety of ongoing global initiatives not involving Sri Lanka, and that the donation amounted to less than one-half of one percent of the funds raised by AI Canada during 2011.
Some of those attending the event were not satisfied with the responses in connection with "Lies Agreed Upon" or the donation to AI Canada. Despite repeated polite requests to allow others to speak and ask their questions, several people engaged in extended shouting. When it became clear that further civil discussion was not feasible due to their behavior, the post-screening discussion was terminated. As a precaution to protect those attending the event, the police were called. The police arrived after the discussion had been terminated; they assisted in clearing the room in an orderly manner.
Last changed May 13, 2012