Channel 4 drama:
Maj Gen Shavendra Silva sifts fact from fiction
Major General Shavendra Silva
Dr. Palitha Kohona
Armed with ‘evidence’ and videos many gathered at the UN Church
Centre right across the United Nations Headquarters in New York to
tarnish the image of Sri Lanka; sponsored by Amnesty International (AI),
Human Rights Watch and the International Crisis Group to screen the
documentary ‘Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields’ by film producer Cullum McRae
which was telecast over the UK-based TV station Channel 4. The team
claimed that the documentary confirms the findings of the Darusman
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch were not happy as the
international community had not conducted an independent investigation
on Sri Lanka.
For AI this footage was strong evidence of war crimes and for them
there was a consistent pattern of Human Rights violation by the Sri
Fortunately, two strong pillars of our diplomatic mission
representing the UN, kept a watchful eye over all that happened.
The screening was attended by about 40 people mainly from NGOs. The
Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the UN, Dr. Palitha Kohona and
the Deputy Permanent Representative, Ambassador Major General Shavendra
Silva watched the movie.
Ambassador Kohona and Major General Silva challenged the assertions
and suggestions in the documentary.
Maj. Gen. Silva told the panel that he knew well what exactly had
taken place at the battlefront.
The documentary did not contain much video footage which could have
been used as evidence to support the Major General’s explanation.
Unfortunately, they were not permitted by Amnesty International,
according to the news reports from New York.
Statements which were blatant lies as well as the true identities of
the individuals of the ‘movie’ were pointed out by the Ambassador. The
inconsistencies and false stories of the documentary were highlighted by
The film maker seemed devastated when Ambassador Silva pointed out
the wrong translation in the scene of civilians inside a trench. The
civilians in the trench were shown shouting at the cameraman in protest
at being recorded. The wrong translation provided for the Tamil being
spoken is clear evidence that this was, in fact, staged.
Maj. Gen. Silva informed the audience that one visual, which showed
an aerial bombing on a specific target in the jungle area, used other
footage of fighter jets to show those particular fighter jets purposely
bombing civilian gatherings.
They were two separate locations, but the narrator tried to portray
it as it the casualties had occurred owing to the bombing in a manner
which could convince the audience.
Major General Silva explained that during this clip, the film-maker
uses two eye witnesses, namely Vany Kumar and Dr. Shamugaraj. Vany Kumar
had three different names in different locations; Damilvany Kumar, Vany
Kumar, Damilvany Gnanakumar.
The Channel 4 program says she had been in Sri Lanka only for six
months, but Ambassador Silva highlighted her stay in Sri Lanka; what her
family in the UK has said through the guardian.co.uk in an interview and
proved to the audience that she was in fact an LTTE activist and
questioning her credibility in the documentary. Ambassador Silva also
shed light on several statements made by Dr. Shanmugaraja who admits to
giving false information to the international media due to LTTE
Channel 4 wanted to create a major controversy about Sri Lanka since
the channel knew that the resultant controversy will be fuelled by
international media institutions while earning the channel millions of
black pounds to overcome their bankruptcy.
It is easy for a media organisation to use sex, violence, crime or
gossip to fill the profit gaps that crop up from time to time. This is
known as ‘yellow journalism’ and is not used for the betterment of the
Finally , the film-maker, in a desperate attempt to save his image in
front of the audience, informs the viewers that Ambassador Silva should
have appeared in from of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation
Commission (LLRC), claiming that he had not. At this moment Ambassador
Silva informed the audience again that the film-maker, doesn’t have the
correct information and that he has, in fact, appeared twice in front of
the LLRC to present testimonies.
The film-maker and the NGOs were rendered speechless with the facts
being thrown at them. Members of the audience have said that it was a
failure on the part of the NGOs to try to present false information.
Dr. Kohona concluded by saying that it is one thing to present facts
to be judged by viewers, but it was something else for the malicious
misrepresentation of facts to create an unreal and exaggerated picture
with an ulterior motive.
The audience virtually had no questions during the discussion period
following the outstanding counter presentations by Ambassador Dr. Kohona
and Ambassador Major General Silva who separated the fact from the
fiction in this “mocumentary”.