Drop charges over Sri Lanka film, Malaysia urged

Indo Asian News Service

Bangkok, Oct 21 (IANS) Malaysian authorities should drop charges against a rights activist accused of showing a film about Sri Lanka's civil war without Censorship Board approval, Human Rights Watch said Monday.

Lena Hendry, of the human rights group Pusat KOMAS, was charged under the Film Censorship Act for organizing a screening of "No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka" July 3 in Kuala Lumpur.

Hendry faces up to three years in prison and a fine of $9,500.

"Malaysian authorities are flipping the switch off on basic freedoms by threatening to jail someone for showing a documentary," said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch.

"They should immediately drop the charges against Lena Hendry and find a way to undo the damage to Malaysia's cultural reputation."

"No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka" is an award-winning documentary about alleged war crimes by the Sri Lankan government during the final months of the civil war in 2009.

The documentary shows government artillery attacks that killed children, women, and the elderly and extrajudicial executions of captured fighters and civilians by government forces.