Jaffna Press Club statement on Jaffna International Film Festival
The Jaffna Press Club supports the right of the Jaffna International Film Festival to maintain editorial and organizational control over its schedule and condemns the attempts to create false equivalencies between the decisions made by the organizers, and the violent and insidious censorship which Tamil media and the population at large have lived through, and continue to live,through.
The film that has been removed from the festival is not banned from being screened in Jaffna, or anywhere in Sri Lanka, nor is the director likely to face any violence or worse, over the contents of his film.
The director and those wishing for the film to be screened are therefore welcome to arrange screenings in Jaffna of their own accord. It is not unreasonable however that organizers such as those of the Jaffna International Film Festival, who have striven to represent and build bridges with the communities, especially after past controversies, would choose not to platform an individual who was perceived as having publicly justified genocide of Tamils.
While Jaffna Press Club appreciates the need for frank discussions and diverse ideas in the Tamil homeland, we note that many films, documentaries etc., especially those that portray the horrors of the genocide, remain censored to us.
Tamil journalists and civil society who do speak on these, or challenge the Sri Lankan status quo continue to be harassed and threatened, with barely a ripple about this outside of the North-East. Until it is genuinely possible for us to safely air and discuss all of our views, it is completely reasonable that an organization purporting to be representative would recognize the dangers of platforming one set of potentially inflammatory and offensive views when there remains no meaningful platform to challenge them.
Meanwhile, we the Jaffna Press Club also deeply concerned and condemn the expressions regard to the issue comes from some of the Journalists Associations and the Movements for Press Rights from South including Free Media Movement since their views are imbalanced and illogical.
Jaffna Press Club.