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Amnesty's anti Sri Lankan campaign draws flak

Amnesty's anti Sri Lankan campaign draws flak

2012 Dec 11

Sri Lankan Students in the University of Louisville organized a campaign in response to what they called ‘a malicious propaganda campaign’ carried out by Amnesty International -USA (AI- USA) against Sri Lanka.
Sri Lankan Students Association of the University of Louisville in Kentucky, USA, organized an awareness event on Sri Lanka's conflict and on post-conflict developments on November 15, 2012.
President of the student association, Kasun Fernando, said the event was organized as a response to a propaganda campaign carried out by the Amnesty International -USA (AI- USA) against Sri Lanka. He said the Sri Lankan students were shocked to learn how Amnesty's campaign has been designed to mislead unsuspecting audiences when they attended a movie screening organized by the INGO.
"Recently, Amnesty screened a movie titled ' The truth that wasn't there' at the university. We too attended the event as it was heavily advertised as a movie about Sri Lanka. We could not believe how that documentary distorted the truth that we knew very well about our country. We questioned the authenticity of the movie's content from the Amnesty representatives but they were clueless and unable to answer," Fernando said.
"Unfortunately, for an audience that barely knows where Sri Lanka is, this type of propaganda can be very effective. They form their opinion about our country watching these misleading documentaries and listening to the stories told to them by Amnesty reps. This is why we decided to screen 'Freedom Speaks' during this event," he added.
During the event the student group screened ‘Freedom Speaks’ an independent investigative documentary about Sri Lanka's conflict to an audience of university students, lecturers, Sri Lanka community members and media.
"Freedom Speaks - The Unspoken Ground Realities of Sri Lanka's Conflict" was produced by a team of young Sri Lankan film enthusiasts in 2011. The documentary was selected for the four best documentaries produced in Sri Lanka at the SIGNIS awards 2012.
The Sri Lankan Student organization has also released a press statement urging Sri Lankan student groups in US and elsewhere to organize similar events on behalf of their motherland.
Quite paradoxically, while Sri Lankan students protested in the US against the Amnesty International documentation, four students were arrested as they participated in demonstrations in Jafna, north Sri Lanka. According to Amnesty’s office in Sri Lanka, the students were picked by by Sri Lankan police’s Terrorist Investigation Division (TID) on charges of a petrol bomb attack on the office of a local political organization.
Amnesty’s Sri Lankan office has said that the students, arrested without statutory authority and held in Vavuniya, risk torture. Quoting Sri Lankan media reports, Amnesty said that the students are being questioned about alleged involvement in a petrol bomb attack on the office of a local political organisation, as well as their involvement in organising demonstrations. “There are concerns for their well-being given evidence of the persistent use of torture in TID custody,” Amnesty has said.
Amnsety says, “There have been a series of violent attacks on student activists in Jaffna, as well as efforts to prevent students from organizing.” (OneWorld South Asia)

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