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The Boy With The Violin

25 minutes
First broadcast:
Saturday 19 November 2011

Civil war in Sri Lanka came to a bloody end in May 2009.

Nearly 300,000 people, driven out of their homes with the retreating Tamil rebels, were trapped in a small strip of land.

Facing bombardment from sea, air and land, many died and the others were released to walk through the raging final battle.

The last months of the war were fought without witnesses as independent media were removed from the battle zone and the story of the civilians who reportedly became human shields for Tamil Tigers were largely untold.

As Head of one of the BBC Language Services for Sri Lanka, Priyath Liyange watched hours of government news footage of thousands of refugees coming through the slaughter.

And one night he caught a glimpse of a young boy picking his way across the battle field with a violin case slung over his shoulder.

He was intrigued by the choice.

At a time when people took the one thing they could carry, why was the instrument so precious?

Armed only with a picture of the boy and the handful of men who walked with him, Priyath Liyanage goes back to Sri Lanka for the BBC World Service, on a quest to find the boy with the violin.

  • The Boy with the violin, captured on film as he left the battlefield

    The Boy with the violin, captured on film as he left the battlefield

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