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Malaysian govt urged to release activist over No Fire Zone screening

Almost 100 leading film makers, lawyers, writers and artists worldwide have called on the Malaysian government to drop the case against Lena Hendry, a human rights activist who was detained after screening the film, 'No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka'.

Lena Hendry, who is also the manager of Kuala Lumpur's Freedom Film Festival, was charged under Malaysia's censorship laws for screening a film that had not been approved by the country's censorship board. She is due to stand trial on December 14th, facing a possible jail term of upto three years.

The documentary, by the director Callum Macrae, displays the mass atrocities committed against the Tamil people in Sri Lanka at the final stages of the armed conflict in 2009.

Over 30 officials from the Malaysian Home Ministry, Immigration and police department raided the screening, which took place in at a private event in July 2003.

See full letter here. Extract reproduced below:

"The film which Lena is charged with showing, No Fire Zone, is now widely and internationally acknowledged to have played a key role in telling the world about the terrible war crimes committed at the end of the war in Sri Lanka. It also helped convince delegates to the UN Human Rights Council to launch a major inquiry into the events which saw tens of thousands of innocent Tamil civilians slaughtered in the space of a few weeks – most killed by government shelling.

The Sri Lankan government which ordered that shelling – and which tried to stop this screening – has now been replaced by popular vote of the Sri Lankan people. Many of its leading members are now facing investigation for war crimes and corruption. History has vindicated the film, yet still Lena faces jail for showing it.

That is why we, the undersigned - film-makers, journalists and media workers from around the world – are today calling for all the charges against Lena Hendry to be dropped immediately and for the government of Malaysia to repeal this unacceptable law before it is used again to stifle free speech."

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