Protest against “Literary Festival” in repressive Sri Lanka

Chomsky, Arundhati, lead protest to writers meet in Galle

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 19 January 2011, 23:37 GMT]
“This is not the right time for prominent international writers like you to give legitimacy to the Sri Lankan government’s suppression of free speech by attending a conference that does not in any way push for greater freedom of expression inside that country,” said an appeal made by leading intellectuals, Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka and Reporters without Borders, against writers participating the ‘Fifth Galle Literary Festival’ scheduled to take place in the southern city Galle in the island of Sri Lanka, 26 – 30 January 2011. Noam Chomsky and Arundhati Roy were the leading signatories of the appeal. In the great tradition of solidarity that binds writers together everywhere, the appeal urged them to send a clear message by their actions that until there is a real improvement in the climate for free expression in Sri Lanka, one cannot celebrate writing and the arts in Galle.

Ken Loach, Antony Loewenstein, Tariq Ali, R. Cheran and Dave Rampton were the other signatories initiating the protest campaign.

“Murders, physical attacks, kidnappings, threats and censorship continue in Sri Lanka despite the end of the civil war. The most senior government officials, including the defence secretary (the President’s brother), are directly implicated in serious press freedom violations affecting both Tamil and Sinhalese journalists,” the appeal cited a report of the Reporters without Borders.

Meanwhile, a so-called international meet of Tamil writers organised in Colombo recently by some diaspora individuals known for their association with Rajapaksa agenda, turned out to be only a get-together of some government officials and some local academics from the intensely oppressed universities of the island.

But, a leading Tamil intellectual living in Colombo, who initially voiced against such a writers meet at this juncture of time, was later ‘convinced’ to send ‘greetings’ to the event and that was highlighted by the organisers, showing the nature of realities for writers in the island.


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