London-based studio Templo has developed the identity for a human rights campaign calling for the arrest of former Sri Lankan general Jagath Jayasuriya, which was launched at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva. Jayasuriya was a commander towards the end of the country’s civil war with Tamil separatists and has been accused of war crimes by human rights groups.
For the #ArrestTheGeneral campaign identity Templo has used the Tamil letterforms for the word ‘general’ to create a pictogram of a military officer with medals pinned to his chest. “We wanted to create a symbol that Sri Lankans could connect with and own but that also appealed to an international audience,” says Templo founder Pali Palavathanan.
“We made the campaign identity feel contemporary and politically neutral (not owned by any existing political party) so we chose vibrant colours with no political connotations,” he adds. “We were really inspired by the bright and striking colours used in textiles that we have collected from various trips to Sri Lanka.”
To get around the UN’s rule against placards, the campaign will mainly manifest on t-shirts and tote bags. “Design in intergovernmental spaces is often undervalued and overlooked,” explains Pali, “so we wanted to use this opportunity to tackle a very heavy subject but with a new and experimental approach, to catch people’s attentions.”
In 2014 Templo created the identity for the #StopTorture campaign for the International Truth and Justice Project, which aimed to raise awareness of the human rights abuses carried out by both sides during the civil war. The identity for that project centred around two logos which fused the Sinhala and Tamil words for ‘stop’ with English.
Last year the International Truth and Justice Project filed lawsuits against Jayasuriya in four countries, alleging he bore individual criminal responsibility for attacks on hospitals, acts of torture and sexual violence, enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings. It is estimated that between 40,000-70,000 Tamil civilians were killed in the final months of the Sri Lankan war in 2009.
It is hoped that the #ArrestTheGeneral campaign will raise awareness about the atrocities and put pressure on the international community to pursue a conviction. Templo will also sell the t-shirts and totes to raise money for charity Survivor of Torture.