In the spring of 2009 Londoners saw thousands of British Tamils protesting daily in Parliament Square, calling on the world to intervene in the civil war in Sri Lanka. We now know a lot more about those first five months of 2009, in which up to forty thousand people perished in the most appalling conditions. Dying mothers screamed to feed their starving babies milk one last time as a last gesture of love. There was no time for funerals as the shells crashed down – almost everyone remembers talking to someone one minute and seeing them dead the next.
A new book, Still Counting the Dead, (published Oct 4 2012 by Portobello Books) by former BBC Correspondent, Frances Harrison, relates the stories of the survivors in sobering, shattering detail. Years later many are still fearful to speak out about what they witnessed, concerned their families back home could be targeted. There will be a reading from the book and explanation about two spin-off projects – a stage drama by Ice and Fire and an ambitious interactive graphic novel project by Benjamin Dix.
The horror of what occurred in 2009 raises questions about whether the catastrophe was preventable. Who is to blame for the lack of intervention in 2009 and the slow progress towards justice now?
For the first time in London, UN Panel of Experts Report author and Executive Director of the Foundation for Human Rights in South Africa Yasmin Sooka will discuss her views on justice and accountability in Sri Lanka, along with Norwegian peace mediator, Erik Solheim who tried to broker a Tamil Tiger surrender at the height of the crisis in 2009. Alan Keenan, Sri Lanka project director at the International Crisis Group, will also participate in the discussion moderated by the BBC’s HARDtalk presenter and former BBC foreign correspondent Stephen Sackur.
Tickets for this non-profit event are £10 in advance. The Sri Lanka Campaign for Peace and Justice are administering the ticketing of the event via EventBrite.
NB. Copies of Still Counting the Dead will be on sale at the venue. Tickets are limited to four per credit card. Subsequent purchases on the same credit card will be rejected.
Sri Lanka Campaign for Peace and Justice.