Militry Uniforms at Arts Festival

Frances Harrison-437

 

Francis Harrison reflects on a Colombo Arts Festival;

Perhaps most shocking was that they came in military uniform to an arts festival. It could have been a bold move to include a session on war reporting in the latest literary event in the Sri Lankan capital – Colomboscope. Sponsored by Standard Chartered Bank and organised by the British Council and Goethe Institute, the boundaries of freedom of expression should at least have been nudged forward a little.

But three of the four-member panel were government spokesmen. The only dissenting voice a very articulate German war correspondent, who didn’t seem to have actually reported on the end of the war in 2009 (another journalist was invited, but later pulled out). She looked increasingly frustrated and uncomfortable as the session proceeded and she came under attack as part of an undefined western conspiracy against Sri Lanka. Her words about coming to terms with the past were applauded by the audience but made little impact on the panelists bent on rewriting history to their advantage

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