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Josefina Bergsten’s documentary “The Activist”

March 01, 2018

An Announcement by the Asian Human Rights Commission

SRI LANKA/WORLD: Josefina Bergsten’s documentary “The Activist”

The full documentary can be viewed HERE.

Josefina Bergsten is a producer of several social documentaries. Some of these documentaries are, “Unjust – a story of three surviving widows of three human rights activists who were assassinated in their countries”. They were, Munir Said Thalib from Indonesia, who was assassinated by poisoning while travelling in an Indonesian Garuda Airlines to the Netherlands; Mr Somchai Neelaphaijit, a senior human rights lawyer in Thailand who was abducted while travelling in Bangkok and thereafter disappeared; and Jerad Perera a Sri Lankan torture victim who was pursuing his cases before the courts and who was murdered while he was travelling to work by bus.

The three widows, Suciwati, Angkhana and Padma have been going to courts for many years seeking justice. But, the courts system is so arranged in favour of the perpetrators of these crimes and to impose hardships on those who demand justice. However, the three women courageously persevere, year after year, to seek justice and to let the world know about the kind of injustices done to their husbands who were decent men devoting their life in the pursuit of justice. This touching story is told by Josefina Bergsten in her documentary “The Unjust”.

In a documentary entitled “Healing Manipur” Josefina covered the moving story of widows in Manipur whose husbands were killed during the prolonged civil conflict in North and East of India. How these women cope-up with their lives, deal with their traumas, and look after their loved ones is told in this documentary with graphic illustrations. This documentary was done with the collaboration of the famous Indian Psychologist Dr. Rajat Mitra.

Josefina Bergstein also has done several stories on torture victims in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal and other countries.

In the present documentary “The Activist”, she covers the problems involved in human rights work in the Asian countries through a long interview with Basil Fernando, Human Rights lawyer and activist who has been involved in human rights work for many decades. The story is narrated with biographical details into work on human rights issues such as caste discrimination, enforced disappearances, misuse of national security laws, and the painful stories of how all these things affects the lives of the ordinary folk.

With large amounts of photographs from Sri Lanka, Cambodia, and Hong Kong, these stories have been beautifully illustrated. Comparisons between Hong Kong and Sri Lanka and Cambodia illustrates the vast differences between societies where the rule of law systems are well established and those where these systems have seriously collapsed.

Story then leads to the global human rights situation since the 9/11 incident and the kind of problems that are now being faced universally.

Several poems by Basil Fernando have also been used to illustrate various aspects of human problems involved in present day human rights tragedies.

The Documentary can be watched HERE.


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