For press freedom by Sunanda Deshapriya
Does it make sense to defend freedom of speech by calling on writers not to speak at a literary festival?
The question is being asked in Sri Lanka this week, after media freedom group Reporters Without Borders called on authors to boycott the Galle Literary Festival because of the country’s human rights record.
As you know I have dedicated the past thirty years of my life to defend human rights and media freedom in Sri Lanka, and continue to live and work in this country. The past years have been very difficult ones, especially as we face continuing attacks and intimidation from both state and non-state forces in the aftermath of the war and in the absence of any credible process of political negotiation with the Tamil community, let alone any process of reconciliation or healing.
The headline story of the Sunday Times of 12 December 2010 was deeply disturbing. According to it the Cabinet has made a decision that henceforth the national anthem will only be sung in Sinhala. Subsequent reports confirmed that the issue was discussed in cabinet but that no final decision had been taken. In the meantime the status quo was to be maintained.