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Confrontation at Sri Lanka's Killing Fields screening in Oslo

2013 Oct 25

by Shamindra Ferdinando


British documentary maker Callum Macrae, during a recent visit to Oslo, where he denounced the forthcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Colombo, was told by a Tamil, of Sri Lankan origin, that the Britisher was making it difficult for the Tamil community to reconcile with the Sinhalese.


Macrae is expected in Colombo during the second week of November to cover CHOGM 2013.


Having shown the much hyped Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields in Oslo last Friday, Macrae and several other persons, including Norwegian representatives of Amnesty International, had engaged the audience, sources said. Among the panelists was Yohan Shanmugaratna, editor of Norwegian language Klasse kampen.


In spite of two representatives from the Sri Lankan diplomatic mission in Oslo remaining silent in the face of the latest propaganda onslaught, the Tamil and a Sinhalese lady responded to the allegations much to the embarrassment of the organizers of the event, sources said.


Norway arranged a ceasefire between Sri Lanka and the LTTE in Feb. 2002. The LTTE quit the agreement in April  2003 during Ranil Wickremesinghe’s tenure as the Premier.


Sources quoted the Tamil member of the audience as having asked Macrae why he was focusing on a 30-year-long conflict and making allegations against the military while conveniently being silent on untold atrocities committed by the LTTE. Sources said:"Macrae briefly explained the difficulty in covering conflict, though he was aware of LTTE atrocities."


The Tamil explained that the situation in Sri Lanka was much better since the defeat of the LTTE in May 2009. Sources quoted him as having declared that since then no one had died due to hostilities and peace on the ground had paved the way for closer relations between the Sinhalese and Tamil speaking people. The man in the audience said that he was optimistic of the situation back at home. "Although there are 70 million Tamils in Tamil Nadu, they live across the sea. Whatever said and done, Tamils have to live with Sinhalese therefore we have to work hard to improve the relationship between the two communities."


The Tamil alleged that Macrae was mistaken if he believed he was helping Tamils. In fact, the likes of Macrae were making it difficult for Tamils to reconcile with Sinhalese. He went on to stress that there was no alternative to reconciliation.


An irate Macrae alleged that those who worked for the Sri Lankan government propagated such views. The Tamil demanded an apology alleging that a serious unsubstantiated allegation was levelled against him. Macrae promptly apologized.


Macrae told the audience that the Sri Lankan government had intervened to prevent screening of Sri Lanka’s ‘Killing Fields’ in Malaysia and Nepal.


The External Affairs Ministry told The Island that a section of the media was still propagating lies on behalf of the LTTE rump. The Ministry said that the documentaries produced by the British media outfit were meant to justify an international war crimes probe targeting Sri Lanka and undermine ongoing efforts at national reconciliation.  


The ministry alleged that unsubstantiated allegations made by Macrae had been the basis for demand for war crimes probe. British MP Siobhain McDonagh and Australian Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon, at the behest of the LTTE rump, proposed that Macrae and John Snow, who presented the story, should be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2012.

 

http://www.island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=90794 

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