Anuradhapura players pique Batticaloa SLA

[TamilNet, Monday, 19 March 2001, 15:10 GMT]
The Sri Lanka army Monday stopped a street play performed by a Sinhala group in Batticaloa, objecting to a character of the skit who was in military uniform. The group, Saama Sevaya Cultural Forum from the village of Talawa in Anuradhapura, was scheduled to perform the play, Tears of Blood, in several parts of Batticaloa Monday. The SLA at Santhively, 24 kilometres north of Batticaloa town, interrupted the play and took away all 16 members of the troupe performing in the premises of Thadakam, a social service organisation in the area, to its camp for questioning around 11.30 a.m. this morning.

The troupe explained to the Santhively SLA that they had obtained due permission from the district brigade to travel and perform in Batticaloa. The SLA, however, had interrogated them at length about the play's contents and the organisation's background. Later the troupe was ordered to report to the 23-2 brigade headquarters at the Valaichenai Paper Mills.

A spokesperson for the troupe said that it is unfortunate that the SLA cannot see a character in a play without invariably rushing to the conclusion that it is a depiction with subversive intent, that any actor playing the role of a soldier does so to denigrate the army and portray it as the perpetrator of atrocities in the war zones of the north and east.

"It shows how it continues to view the Tamils here with inveterate suspicion. It is also a manifestation of its self-perception as the army of the Sinhala nation and the anxieties it harbours as such amidst a Tamil population", said a member of the troupe who was questioned today at the Santhively SLA camp.

Mr. Samson Jayasingha, national secretary of the Sama Sevaya (Peace Service) Cultural Forum, actors Ms. Kamalawathie Ekanayaka and her daughter Ms. Chandrika Maduwanthi, Ms. Subadra Rajasinghe and two officials of the local NGO that invited them reported to brigade later in the day. Mr.Jayasingha said that his troupe would continue its performances in Batticaloa despite the SLA's attitude.

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