It’s possible to make history but much harder to rewrite it.
On February 4th, the government of Sri Lanka celebrated the country’s 64th year of independence from Great Britain with a festive ceremony, including a moment of silence, a parade, and a speech given by current Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Independence Day celebrations not only focused on past oppression by their colonizers, but also on the hope for a future of post-civil war unity and prosperity. The president’s speech was geared toward development and cohesiveness for the entire state, including rural areas, emphasizing the intellectual and economic spheres. But there was nothing about the brutal civil war and decades of oppression of the minority Tamil population by the central Sri Lankan government.
On the contrary, Rajapaksa avidly warned his constituents against harmful media propaganda and terrorist conspiracies from overseas. Perhaps a popular “conspiracy” he is referring to is the United Kingdom’s Channel 4 Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields documentary. Images of the atrocities carried out by both the Tamil Tigers and government troops during the civil war in the film are quickly spreading worldwide. The Sri Lankan government, which has been accused of war crimes, continues to deny that the film captures real events during the war, and instead claims that images were falsified.
Still, the global media virtually unanimously credits the documentary as an accurate depiction of the violent war’s end. Anticipated screenings of the documentary include one on February 18th at Ventura Community Centre in Palo Alto, California – and maybe one here at LMU. You should go and see for yourself.
By Stephanie Garcia
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