Wednesday, December 14, 2005
Film Uncovers Post-Tsunami Scandal
Director Dhruv Dhawan may have just wanted to make a film about Sri Lankan survivors of the 2004 tsunami that crashed into southeast Asian countries last December, killing more than 200,000 people, but what he uncovered, while making his film From Dust, is a scandal of global proportions. Dhawan's film reveals that rather than using the $3.5 billion allocated to help rebuild homes for victims following the disaster, the government of Sri Lanka, warning of another Tsunami, used fear to drive these homeless (many of them fishers) from the coastal regions and, rather than provide new homes for them, used the money to develop the land for tourism. The film estimates that more than 350,000 people remain homeless and living in tents. The film also quotes a disillusioned U.S. naval officer as saying that the Sri Lankan government has not constructed a single home for the victims of the tsunami and instead is turning the crisis into an money-making opportunity. The film also has a local Sri Lankan politician saying that those affected by this decision are "the small people." Anyone who has given money to the tsunami relief effort should watch this film and then stand up in protest! This is nothing short of an outrage. Once again, a film has helped to shed light on injustice. But it really doesn't matter if no one follows up. This reminds me of a line from The Godfather Part III. A catholic bishop has just thanked Michael Corleone for a generous contribution to the poor of Sicily and Michael replies, "Let's just hope the money gets to the people who need it the most." Everyone who gave to the tsunami relief funds hoped the same thing. Now, the film From Dust shows that isn't the case.