Nobel winner pulls out of Sri Lanka book fair
[TamilNet, Friday, 21 January 2011, 12:44 GMT]
Nobel-winning Turkish author Orhan Pamuk and fellow writer Kiran Desai have pulled out of Sri Lanka's main literary festival, Pamuk's publisher said on Friday, following appeals made by leading intellectuals that attending the festival gives "legitimacy to the Sri Lankan government’s suppression of free speech," and does not in "any way push for greater freedom of expression inside" Sri Lanka, Emirates news reported. Internationally acclaimed political dissidents Noam Chomsky and Arundhati Roy were the leading signatories of the appeal.
Pamuk and his partner Kiran Desai, a Booker Prize-winning author, are attending the Jaipur Literary Festival in northern India and had planned to travel on to Sri Lanka for the Galle event that starts on January 26.
"They won't be attending the Galle festival," Hemali Sodhi from Pamuk's publisher in India, Penguin, told AFP by telephone. "They won't be commenting on this any further," the paper quoted the publisher as saying.
“Murders, physical attacks, kidnappings, threats and censorship continue in Sri Lanka despite the end of the civil war. The most senior government officials, including the defence secretary (the President’s brother), are directly implicated in serious press freedom violations affecting both Tamil and Sinhalese journalists,” the appeal cited a report of the Reporters without Borders.
A total of 17 journalists and media workers have been killed in Sri Lanka in the past decade and many local reporters exercise self-censorship to avoid confrontations with the authorities, according to rights groups.
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka's President, is reportedly visiting U.S. His visit, purportedly private, is being kept secret, partly to avoid embarrassing confrontation with Tamil diaspora and to reduce negative publicity to the Obama administration for allowing an alleged war-criminal to move freely in the U.S, Tamil sources in the US said.