More than 150,000 people have now voted in a RadioTimes.com poll asking users which programme should win the current affairs award at the Baftas – and now the poll’s surprising status as a representation of the international struggle for democracy and justice has taken a new turn.
The Channel 4 film Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields, which documented alleged war crimes perpetrated by the government during the Sri Lankan civil war, has received several thousand votes in the past 24 hours, as campaigners for justice in Sri Lanka have latched onto the poll.
Supporters of Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields are using the Twitter hashtag #killingfields to encourage others to vote – and this morning they were joined by the presenter of the film, Jon Snow, and its director, Callum Macrae.
Previously, Bahrain had been the focus of the vote. Al Jazeera’s programme Bahrain: Shouting in the Dark, which concerned how Arab Spring protests were dealt with by the ruling Bahrain monarchy, is also nominated in the Baftas’ current affairs category. On Saturday, Bahrain foreign minister Khalid Al Khalifa took the extraordinary step of tweeting a link to the RadioTimes.com page, urging Bahraini loyalists to “vote against the harmful al Jazeera film”.
Bahraini democracy campaigners responded by calling, via social networks, for support for the al Jazeera programme. Thus the poll became a fight between Bahrain: Shouting in the Dark and its nearest competitor, Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields, with the latter perversely enjoying a boost from those loyal to the Bahraini regime.
Now, however, that picture has changed. Although heavy traffic is still arriving at the page from Bahrain, users from across the globe are also voting for Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields to express their desire to bring members of the country’s government to justice.
“It’s extraordinary how this Radio Times poll has turned into nothing less than an international pro-democracy campaign,” Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields director Callum Macrae told RadioTimes.com. “I’d like both films to win! What is very important, though, is that people are clear that to vote for the Sri Lankan film is a vote for democracy and justice in Sri Lanka – it would be a grotesque misrepresentation if the Bahraini government tries to claim it was a vote for them.
“The votes for both of these films are votes for truth, justice and democracy,” Macrae added. “Taken together they should be a warning to repressive regimes, whether in Sri Lanka or Bahrain, that people are demanding change.”
Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields currently has 49 per cent of votes in the poll (up from 39 per cent on Sunday), with Bahrain: Shouting in the Dark on 51 per cent. The other two nominees are Undercover Care and The Truth about Adoption, both from BBC1’s Panorama strand. All four are available to watch online.
The poll does not, of course, decide who wins the award itself. It will be decided by a Bafta jury and announced on 27 May.