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Shavendra challenges Callum to a debate

2013 Nov 18

by Sulochana Ramiah Mohan



Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative to the UN (New York), Maj. Gen. Shavendra Silva, said he is willing to debate Channel 4 Film Director, Callum Macrae, on his documentary that 'accuses' Sri Lanka of having committed war crimes.



Silva, in a telephone conversation from New York, told Ceylon Today, that a few years ago, when Sri Lanka's Representative to the UN, Palitha Kohona, was invited for the screening of the film, he (Silva) was offered the seven minutes that was allotted to Kohona to speak, as Kohona had felt that Silva, having been on the battlefront, was the right person to refute Macrae's allegations.



"Kohona had said he would make way for me to speak as he felt I was the right person to answer the questions that had been raised, through Macrae's documentary, even though I was not invited for that screening. "However, during a meeting in New York, I invited Macrae for an open debate but he avoided it.



"I briefed him on how some of the clips he had used in his movie were doctored and there were some scenes totally different from what had in reality, happened. For example, in the instance where a girl was seen peeping through a fence, I can tell you there wasn't a grill (in a fence) like that at all. I took a few copies of his documentary but unfortunately there was no time to completely substantiate my claims. I also asked him to replay the documentary which he did not do. I told him that if I was wrong, he was free to so prove, but Macrae did not do that either. He did not utter a word," Silva explained.



Maj. Gen. Silva further said the only question Macrae had asked him then was, "Shall I go and tell the LLRC what evidence I have?" Silva had replied that he had already been called by the LLRC, officially, and that he had met the LLRC on his own as well.



"If he is not prepared to clear anything, I am willing to talk to him, may be over a debate. Channel 4 should reveal the sources of their information to some trustworthy body for an investigation. At the time too I told them to visit Sri Lanka, but they did not come here. Now they are visiting Sri Lanka under the shield of CHOGM. Still, it's better for them to go and see for themselves. He can call me to any TV station for a live debate and I am willing to meet him face to face," Silva stated.



He continued, "I have been challenging him over and over again and still I am willing to engage in a debate. I am ready for a debate anytime."

Silva went on to say that from time to time, Channel 4 would come up with new allegations, and he will continue to challenge them as he had, in the past.



When Ceylon Today contacted Callum Macrae, who is in Sri Lanka at present, and sought his response to Silva's assertions, he responded saying, "I am more than happy to talk to him anytime." However, Macrae added that he was unable to visit New York as he cannot afford to do so, financially. "I am ready for either a private or a public debate, but Silva has never called me for a debate," he claimed.

"My recollection of the meeting in New York is totally different to what Shavendra Silva claims," he added.

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