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This article is taken from the Reconciliation Website, which subsumes the old site used by the former Secretariat for Coordinating the Peace Process (SCOPP).

In asking me to comment on the reported boycott of the Galle Literary Festival by two writers, Sirasa TV also wanted some background information on the Festival, in particular as to whether it was of service to Sri Lanka. I had been told before about the call by Reporters beyond Borders that the Festival be boycotted, on the grounds that media freedom in Sri Lanka is under threat. I had also been sent the robust critique of that call on Groundviews, a media outlet that exemplifies the freedom the media in Sri Lanka enjoys. It was suggested too that I write something on the issue, but I had wanted, on a Saturday, to work on Sri Lankan Poetry. However, having done an interview for Sirasa, I felt there was no good excuse for not putting pen to paper.

With regard to the Festival itself, I believe it is of great benefit to Sri Lanka. When the Festival was started, way back in 2007 I think, there was much criticism in various quarters, including that it was basically a money making exercise for its founder, Geoffrey Dobbs. But there should be no objection to people making money, so long as they provide services to others that give value for money. It seemed to me that Dobbs was doing that.

A second objection was that the Festival had nothing really to do with Sri Lanka. This seemed to me a more valid objection, since in that first year there were I believe no Sri Lankan writers involved, excepting expatriates. It was also difficult, given the cost of events, for most Sri Lankans not out of the top financial bracket to attend.
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Rajiva Wijesinha

January 2011
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