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Sri Lanka bans film it says insults gov't forces

Monday - 7/15/2013, 1:00pm  ET

BHARATHA MALLAWARACHI
The Associated Press

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) -- Sri Lanka has banned a film about the island nation's ethnic conflict and civil war because it insults the government and its military, a government spokesman said Monday.

"It's an illegal film which insults the security forces and the government of Sri Lanka," said Lakshman Hulugalla, director general of the government's Media Centre for National Security.

The film, "Flying Fish," was banned in Sri Lanka because the film's creators used images of the Sri Lankan military uniform without permission from the Ministry of Defense, said Hulugalla, adding that legal action will be taken against those involved in making the film.

The distribution and screening of the film has been stopped in Sri Lanka, he told reporters.

The film directed by Sri Lankan filmmaker Sanjeewa Pushpakumara had its world premiere in 2011. The film weaves together three narratives set against the backdrop of the civil war that ended in 2009 when the government forces crushed the Tamil Tiger rebels, who were fighting for a separate state for ethnic minority Tamils. The quarter-century-long civil war killed an estimated 80,000 to 100,000 people.

Pushpakumara was not immediately available for comment.

Both the Tamil Tigers and government forces have been accused of war crimes during the fighting.

A U.N. investigation showed that the ethnic Sinhalese-dominated government might have killed as many as 40,000 Tamil civilians in the war's final months.

The government denied that any civilian deaths occurred, but said it would investigate instances of alleged abuses identified by its own war inquiry. A Sri Lankan commission report, released in December 2011, cleared the government forces of wrongdoing.

The government argues that its own investigation should suffice, but international pressure has been growing for an independent investigation into possible war crimes.

In March, the U.N. Human Rights Council approved a U.S.-backed resolution calling on Sri Lanka to more thoroughly investigate alleged war crimes committed by both sides.


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