The Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) has refused a censor certificate to the controversial film No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka, a documentary on the last phase of the war between Sri Lankan forces and the LTTE in early 2009.

The documentary that has been in public domain for over three years has been contested by the Sri Lankan government as propaganda to discredit Colombo in the eyes of the international community.

In a statement from London on Saturday, the producers of the film said the documentary’s director Callum Macrae has decided to make it available for “free streaming online” in India. There was no official word from the CBFC and efforts by The Hindu to contact officials for a response did not yield result.

The producers have, in turn, accused the Indian authorities of “political censorship of unpalatable truths” for refusing a censor certificate on the ground it “may strain friendly relations with Sri Lanka.”

Disturbing visuals

According to the press release, the Board also found most of the visuals of the film “which documents war crimes… at the end of the Sri Lankan civil war” as disturbing.

Reacting to the failure to obtain a censor certificate for his film, Mr. Macrae said: “I find it very disturbing that a country whose independent history is rooted in the struggle for democratic rights and free speech should have taken what is, in effect, an act of overt political censorship.”

The decision to make the film available for “free streaming online in India” has been billed as a mark of protest against “the ban”. It would be available for free streaming from Sunday in English and with Hindi sub-titles. The film was screened in Chennai on Saturday by Youths and Students Federation, a pro-Tamil group.

In the case of Nepal, Film Southasia — the festival where it was to be screened — said, "the Sri Lankan Government has pressurised the Nepali authorities to stop the screening" of this film and two other Sri Lankan films.

Last year, the film was screened twice in India but to a limited audience as part of the ongoing efforts to mobilise opinion against participation of world leaders in the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Sri Lanka.

Currently, efforts to screen the film in different countries comes ahead of the meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva amid calls to the world community to set up an International Commission of Enquiry into the crimes committed in the last stages of the war in Sri Lanka.