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Final stages of the war: Colombo-produced documentary screened in London 'The Last Phase'

2014 Jan 20

By Sujeeva Nivunhella in London 

Members of the Sri Lankan community and foreigners gathered at London’s Carlton Club last week to listen to former Conservative Party MP and an incumbent member of the European Parliament, Nirj Deva of Sri Lankan origin and watch a Colombo-produced documentary that depicted a different side of the final stages of the war against the LTTE than that propagated by the Callum Macrae-Channel-4 combination.

The talk and video presentation were organized by the Conservative Friends of Sri Lanka, a dedicated group of the Sri Lankan community in the UK, which is working towards convincing the public here that the Channel4-Macrae- Frances Harrison image of the last days of the war is a contrived, unsubstantiated version of the end of the war propagandized by Sri Lanka’s critics.

 The documentary "The Last Phase" directed by Jeevan Chandimal and narrated by Richard Mundy tells the story of some Tamils, mainly women and children, who, while trying to escape from the LTTE human shield, suffered severe injuries and were flown to Colombo hospitals for surgical treatment and months of resuscitation.

It tells the story of a LTTE woman cadre who, as a child, was trained to fight for the Tamil cause, but later decided to quit. However, she was injured along with her infant son. It also portrays other Tamil men and women who suffered critical injuries and of the suffering of these civilians who tried to break away from clutches of the LTTE. They were eager to be free to lead the normal life they were accustomed to but had to pay a heavy price physically and psychologically. This provided the audience with the different perspective of the humanitarian operation that has been hidden from the public in the UK.

 The event was attended by Neville de Silva, Sri Lanka’s acting High Commissioner, diplomats, borough councillors, representatives of the Conservative Party and a wide cross-section of Sri Lankans of all communities. 

Before the screening of the documentary,  Nirj Deva claimed that Sri Lanka’s case had not been understood by the British because they were either ignorant of or ignored the country’s history and its political position as one of Asia’s oldest democracies and its dominant place in the geography of the Indian Ocean through which major sea lanes carried goods in both directions to the Pacific nations and the Atlantic Ocean states.

 Giving a few lessons in history, he pointed out how India involved itself in Sri Lanka’s politics and trained and armed militant groups that eventually launched terrorist attacks on the country. He emphasized Sri Lanka’s geostrategic position and hence the need to delicately balance the country’s foreign policy.

Dr Lionel Samarasinghe, President of the Conservative Friends of Sri Lanka, Rajan Yorke and Amal Abeywardena, the livewires behind the organization, which receives no financial or logistical support from anyone and is completely self-financing, encouraged the gathering to inform their friends to attend the next screening in the UK Parliament.

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