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Macrae refused Indian visa

2013 Nov 05

The Nobel Prize nominated director of the film No Fire Zone: the Killing Fields of Sri Lanka has expressed concern and surprise over the fact that it appears he is being denied a visa to attend the premiere of his own film in Delhi on November the 7th.

He issued a statement expressing his “deep concern” over the delay in issuing him with a visa, adding: “I know that the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the last few months of the civil war in Sri Lanka are a matter of considerable concern to the government in India – and I am at a loss to understand why they are giving the impression they want to prevent me coming over to talk about my film and the evidence that we have been gathering for more than three years.”

“I am due to fly out on the 6th of November, and I find it extraordinary that I still do not have my visa, despite the fact that I first applied more than eight months ago.”

Macrae applied for the visa in February this year in order to attend the pre-launch press conference about the film. This was the time that the No Fire Zone team first revealed the photographs of Balachandran Prabhakaran, the 12 year old child of the Tamil Tiger leader, alive and apparently in the custody of Sri Lankan government forces.

Macrae applied at the same time as his producer – but despite the fact that she was granted a visa, he was not. His passport was returned to him marked “Visa Applied For”

Since then Macrae has made several approached to the Indian authorities in an attempt to get some progress on the application, but to no avail.

Macrae said yesterday :” I am at a compete loss to understand why the government appears to be refusing to let me come to India for the premiere of the film. I sincerely hope this has been caused by a bureaucratic mix-up and is nothing that could be perceived as some kind of attempt to prevent discussion of this issue.”

“I do know that as I have travelled around the world the Sri Lankan government has frequently tried to prevent screenings of the film. They protested over screenings in the UN and the European Union. In Malaysia they are accused of putting pressure on the Malaysian government to stop a screening organised by the Human Rights NGO Pusat Komas in Kuala Lumpur. Indeed when the screening went ahead it was raided by between 30 and 40 members of the Censorship Board and the police. They did not manage to stop the screening, but they arrested the organisers and one of them – a brave young woman called Lena Hendry, is now awaiting trial and could face a maximum of 3 years in jail. “

The Sri Lankans were also accused of putting pressure on the authorities in Nepal, forcing the organisers of the Film Southasia Festival to cancel a screening and move it to another venue – while in the original venue they held a debate on censorship.

“I sincerely hope that this pattern of pressure from the Sri Lankan government does not have anything to do with India’s decision not to give me a visa.”

“If so it would be doubly ironic given that Sri Lanka itself – under pressure from the Commonwealth – has publicly agreed to give me a visa for CHOGM.”

“The High Commission has now had my application for over eight months – and I now see no option, if it is not granted today, but to turn up at the Indian High Commission in London in person on Tuesday and ask for it to be issued there and then.” (Colombo Gazette) 

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