Frances Harrison's book, 'Still Counting The Dead' was launched on Friday to a packed and diverse audience in London that included many activists, journalists, artists, and Tamils. The event included presentations on upcoming projects by visual artists and directors that intend to depict the suffering of Tamils in 2009 and to this day, through various mediums.
Benjamin Dix revealed his current project of an animated graphic novel that follows the story of one Tamil man, Anthony, and this family, through the horrors of May 2009, to the displacement and confinement of Menik Farm through to seeking asylum in the UK and the psychological impact of the suffering he experiences. The graphic novel will be published online chapter by chapter.
Christine Bacon from theatre company Ice and Fire, spoke of how she was inspired to produced a stage production based on 'Still Counting The Dead' after Frances Harrison sent her a few chapters of the book and she was instantly "completely gripped". Reflecting on her previous ignorance of the events of 2009, Bacon said it now motivated her produce this play as "the epic scale of human tragedy was astonishing".
The director of the Channel 4 documentary 'Sri Lanka's Killing Fields', Callum Macrae revealed plans for a feature length film and played the film's powerful yet harrowing trailer. Macrae said, "this film will be different to the others, we want this to be a call to action," and said he hoped it to be released by February next year.
The launch event also saw a lively discussion chaired by HardTalk's Stephen Sackur, and included a panel consisting of the former Norwegian diplomat Erik Solheim, Yasmin Sooka of the UN Panel of Experts commissioned to report on Sri Lanka, and the International Crisis Group's Alan Keenan.
Live commentary of the discussion from our Twitter page: @TamilGuardian reproduced below (in chronological order of tweets):
LIVE: Solheim - 'everyone is right to blame the international community' #lka #sctd
LIVE: Solheim - 'By Jan 2009 outcome of war was clear' #sctd #lka
LIVE: Solheim - 'we said every single til civilian would be registered and phtographed (if #LTTE surrendered)' #sctd #lka
LIVE: Solheim claims 'all cadres and civilians would have been here to fight by ther means' if #LTTE surrendered #sctd #lka
LIVE: Solheim claims again 'ALL cadres and civilians would have been alive' of #LTTE surrendered #lka #sctd
LIVE: Solheim 'that was not an excuse for #SriLanka to act the way they did' #lka #sctd
LIVE: lady in audience interrupts. Says ' #LTTE cadres are being registered now' and killing still happens. Solheim - 'it's different' #sctd
LIVE: Yasmin Sooka - struck by claims of 'rescue mission' by #SriLanka. This was 'obscene' #sctd #lka
LIVE: Sooka '#SriLanka govt. deliberately starved civilians by fudging figures' #sctd #lka
LIVE: Sooka declaration of no fire zones was 'cynical' #sctd #lka
LIVE: @stephensackur 'r u sure about figures of 40,000?' Sooka 'number could be higher... As high as 75,000 civilians dead' #sctd #lka
LIVE: Solheim 'I have no way of assessing how many died' steers well clear of topic when asked. #sctd
LIVE: @akeenan23 'bishop of Mannar figures say 140,000' missing. #lka #sctd
LIVE: Sooka 'national action plan of #SriLanka does not address any of the issues in our report.. Yet to c a list of detainees' #sctd #lka
LIVE: 'returning displaced to their homes has not happened' - Yasmin Sooka #sctd
LIVE: @stephensackur 'could not believe the extent to which that part of northern #SriLanka felt like occupied territory' #lka #sctd
LIVE: Sooka 'extraordinary act of bravery and courage that ppl were willing to put themselves at risk' for PoE report #sctd #lka
LIVE: @akeenan23 - "60-70,000 remain unaccounted for #sctd
LIVE: @stephensackur asks any reason for optimism? @akeenan23 not in short term, but long game needs to be played.
LIVE: Sooka 'our job is to make those responsible for what happened accountable' @stephensackur responds 'you've failed' #sctd #lka
LIVE: @eriksolheimsv - should be absolute international pressure to reach out to #Tamils. 3 yrs but not one serious step to resolve conflict
LIVE: @eriksolheimsv - more should be done to bring fwd witnesses such as in #sctd to bring accountability
LIVE: @stephensackur asks can we ever get definite number of dead? @akeenan23 -more could be done but quietly carefully. Eg village surveys
LIVE: Yasmin Sooka says numbers could be reconstructed with village figures, but not going to happen with current government. #sctd
LIVE: Solheim 'Prabhakaran was responsible for failure of peace process' audience member shouts out to him 'You were responsible!' #sctd
Live: audience asks what role of diaspora is? @eriksolheimsv - 'most successful diaspora'. 'must accept no support for violence. #sctd
LIVE: audience member questions panel @stephensackur @francesharris0n why no diaspora member involved.
LIVE: Yasmin Sooka - 'big question that diaspora has to ask about supporting #LTTE unflinchingly' #sctd
LIVE: Non Tamil audience member and Tamil youth asks when US & UK will be brought to account? & role of international media who were silent
LIVE: Non Tamil audience member criticises @francesharris0n 'you don't get to decree when a struggle ends'
LIVE: @akeenan23 - All parties contributed #lka #LTTE US UK India. Powerful countries said 2009 was ok partly due to dominance #WarOnTerror
LIVE: @eriksolheimsv -as audience mainly #Tamils must say uncomfortable truths. Must be soul searching by Tamils.
LIVE: @eriksolheimsv - Why did world give support the government? Not because wanted to Tamils to die. But because of #LTTE
LIVE - audience member asks why Washington venue chosen, as clearly a mistake. Resulted in failure of peace process
LIVE: @eriksolheimsv replies 'clearly a mistake' 'ill-conceived' but cannot be held responsible for what happened after that.
LIVE: anon audience member asks what does future hold for #Tamils in #lka. @akeenan23 depends where you live. In NE very hard.
LIVE: @akeenan23 - in NE, high unemployment, militarised, ongoing sinhalisation and military 99% #Sinhala
LIVE: @akeenan23 - needs to be united international pressure to make #lka govt to make it take steps towards agreement with TNA.
LIVE - @akeenan23 lead needs to come from TNA as they are in #lka and #Tamil diaspora needs to support them.
LIVE: @eriksolheimsv - 'simple steps #lka can do: why don't #lka govt immediately release or charge all #Tamil detainees? #sctd
LIVE: @eriksolheimsv another immediate step- why can't #lka govt halt all sinhalisation of NE.
LIVE: Audience member asks @eriksolheimsv why hasn't he registered all cadres and IDPs. If you could it in Jan why couldn't you do it in May
LIVE: audience member tells @eriksolheimsv 'you are a man with zero credibility'
LIVE: @akeenan23 intervenes - all those things are important but to say @eriksolheimsv must have done that all is madness.
LIVE: @eriksolheimsv responds: whenever talk about #lka, #Tamils attack those who take an interest. I am only EU minister who is interested.
LIVE: anon audience member asks 'would all three members agree that a genocide took place?'
LIVE: @eriksolheimsv 70K killed. Whether it is genocide or not does not matter. What matters is those accountable are tried for #warcrimes
LIVE: @akeenan23 I'm not legal expert but think there is a political project to use #genocide label to further political means.
LIVE: @akeenan23 conts - having said that I think it remains an open question.
LIVE: @stephensackur draws event to a close thanking panel 'Never chaired a #lka debate that hasn't been passionate and heated. Thanks panel