The Channel 4 footage Sri Lanka war crimes footage showed graphically what happens when ordinary people are regarded as mere pawns who can be sacrificed in a contest between rival commanders, says Savi Hensman, reviewing the evidence. But all human life is precious and such degrading practices must be outlawed
As a Dutch teenager under Nazi occupation, Ben Bavinck learnt to resist fascism. He later taught in Sri Lanka, then returned in 1988, amidst violent turmoil. By that time, the island had become notorious throughout the world because of the scale of killings, by both government and rebel forces. While doing relief and rehabilitation work for the National Christian Council, he kept diaries, describing and seeking to make sense of what he witnessed.
Treating any politician as a near-deity, and giving him or her absolute power, is a dangerous course, says Savi Hensman. In concentrating power in his own hands, President Mahinda Rajapaksa resembles the ruthless Tamil Tiger leader Velupillai Prabhakaran.