Pamuk, other writers ‘legitimising Sri Lanka suppression’: watchdog

PARIS, January 20, 2011 (AFP) – Leading media freedom group Reporters Without Borders on Thursday accused Nobel-winning author Orhan Pamuk and other writers of legitimising repression in Sri Lanka by attending a literary festival there. Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said it was “disturbing” that Sri Lanka should celebrate literature while suppressing freedom of expression and attacking independent journalists and writers.

Dozens of foreign writers, including Turkey’s Pamuk — a free speech campaigner once charged with “insulting Turkishness” — are due in Sri Lanka for the festival in the southern town of Galle from January 26.

“RSF finds it highly disturbing that literature is being celebrated in this manner in a land where cartoonists, journalists, writers and dissident voices are so often victimised by the current government,” the group said.

“We believe this is not the right time for prominent international writers like you to give legitimacy to the Sri Lankan government’s suppression of free speech,” it told the attending authors.

The RSF launched the campaign with Sri Lanka’s Journalists for Democracy (JDS).

They have been backed by authors Noam Chomsky, Arundhati Roy, Ken Loach, Antony Loe