Sri Lanka Indicts Eight Suspects Following Release of ‘Brothers Shaikh’ Film

On Monday we brought you the news that Stateless Media, a new film company based in Washington, had created a film about a man murdered in a Sri Lankan coastal town in 2011. Amid the crime, the man’s girlfriend was raped. At the time, the government imprisoned eight suspects, including a Sri Lankan politician, for 11 months and then released them. For a year and a half, the story stilled.

The murdered man, Khuram Shaikh, was from Manchester, England. His family still lives there. To many Brits, it’s outrageous that Britain is sending its prime minister, David Cameron, and Prince Charles to take part in the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) this year in light of the fact that Sri Lanka is hosting it.

The film was released last week and posted on The New Yorker website. Since then, there has been an apology from Sri Lankan senior officials as well as an indictment of all eight suspects. (Yeah, the Sri Lankan court system is nothing like what exists here so don’t even try to equate it.) What’s important — we guess — is that the suspects are once again being asked to pay for their crimes.

“‘The Brothers Shaikh’ has been getting lots of clicks in Britain, and my suspicion is the British High Commission, in Colombo, told the Sri Lankans it was getting hard to justify sending Cameron and Prince Charles to this big meeting that the Sri Lankans will be hosting,” explained Stateless Media founder Peter Savodnik. “That probably scared the Sri Lankans. Hosting the Brits means a lot to them. It’s like a debutante ball. It means: We’re modern and democratic, and we don’t kill Tamils or Muslims; we’re not Buddhist zealots or fascists, which is what they are becoming, slowly. Still, there are two things to remember: First, the government has only said that it will indict the Tangalle Eight; it hasn’t done that yet. And second, we only made a movie about one man, Khuram Shaikh; there are thousands of Sri Lankans whom we will never make any movies about.”

Stateless Media is now producing films – they call them shortreals – in New York and Berlin. They have shortreals under development in Burma, Cairo and Los Angeles.