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‘Ray of Hope’ documentary screens at the Frontline Club in London

‘Ray of Hope’, a documentary detailing the journey of former Canadian MP for Scarborough- Rouge River, Rathika Sitsabaiesan, to Sri Lanka’s and the island’s troubled history with genocide and accountability, was screened for at the Frontline Club in London on Tuesday night.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Tamils organised the event, in collaboration with the Tamil Guardian and the British Tamil Alliance. The documentary screening was followed by a panel discussion with Ms Sitsabaiesan, the interim Executive Director of People for Equality and Relief in Lanka (PEARL), Madura Rasaratnam, and co-director for Adayaalam Centre for Policy Research, Dharsha Jegatheeswaran.

The documentary detailed the horrors of the Tamil genocide and focused on the plight of Tamil Families of the Disappeared who, 15 years after the end of the armed conflict, are continuing their struggle to find out what happened to their loved ones. It also outlined the failures of the Office of Missing Persons (OMP), which the UN High Commissioner, has detailed “has not been able to trace a single disappeared person or clarify the fate of the disappeared in meaningful ways”.

The documentary also details how Ms Sitsabaiesan was detained and interrogated by Sri Lankan police during the recording of her documentary.

During the panel discussion, Rasaratnam detailed how the underlying roots of the conflict have not been addressed and how Sinhala nationalism continues to animate politics on the island. Reflecting on the latest economic crises, she detailed how this toxic nationalism continued to produce an economic model which is not only non-viable, but has left the island in perpetual debt and reliant on international bailouts.

Jegatheeswaran spoke on the panel about the need to continue pressure on governments to bring Sri Lanka into compliance with its international human rights obligations. In the lead-up to the UK election, “right now we must ask more of our politicians,” she noted. She further lamented the fact that the UK has failed to impose sanctions on any senior Sri Lankan civil military official implicated in human rights violations.

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