US Congressman: "Gruesome example of Humans at their worst"

[TamilNet, Saturday, 16 July 2011, 03:52 GMT]
Congressman James McGovern, co-chair of a US Congress human rights commission named in honor of late lawmaker Tom Lantos, described the Channel-4 documentary, Sri Lanka's Killing Fields, as "a gruesome example of humans at their worst," AFP reported after the 50-minute documentary was shown at the U.S. Capitol Complex Friday as US lawmakers and rights advocates stepped up calls for an international probe into Sri Lanka's civil war. Nearly 300 people including several senior and influential Congressional staff, diplomats from different countries and State Department officials, and members of the public attended the screening in the auditorium with a seating capacity of 450.

"These scenes provide much more than simply shock value, however: They also are powerful evidence of the need for an independent investigation to hold those responsible accountable for the crimes," AFP report said quoting McGovern, a member of President Barack Obama's Democratic Party from Massachusetts.

Jim McGovern, Co-Chair of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, gave introductory remarks before the film screening, and after the film, four panelists discussed ongoing efforts to further accountability in Sri Lanka, including the findings of the recent U.N. Panel of Experts report on war crimes in Sri Lanka, and the U.S. response to these developments.

Mark Schneider, Senior Vice-President, International Crisis Group, Adotei Akwei, Managing Director for Government Relations, Amnesty International-USA, Tom Malinowski, Washington Director, Human Rights Watch, were in the panel moderated by Maria McFarland, Deputy Washington Director, Human Rights Watch.

Panelist focused on the need for an International Commission of Inquiry, Colombo's discredited "Commissions" and the information the Rights Groups independently received on the final months of the war.

Four Buddhist monks, Sri Lankan Embassy officials and Sri Lanka Government lobbyists were present among the majority Tamil activists, and asked questions purportedly to discredit the documentary. They challenged the figure of 40,000 killed and urged that LLRC be given more time.

Panelists responded that Sri Lanka's effort at discrediting the casualty figure is unlikely to succeed unless international organizations are allowed into the north east to investigate.

Attorney Bruce Fein, who filed a case against Sri Lankan President, journalists, and general public also attended the event.

Tamils for Obama (TfO) handed complementary copies of Channel 4 Documentary DVDs to those attended. "We plan to have copies of this DVD hand-delivered to the offices of every representative and senator. We will also give DVDs to think tanks, influential citizens, church groups, libraries, colleges and universities, and any other person or institution we think should be aware of these matters," a spokesperson for TfO told TamilNet.


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