By Malinda Seneviratne –
Meanwhile In A Parallel Universe Called Humility
I am Callum Macrae. I am an award-winning film maker, writer and journalist. The ‘journalist’ part is important because it allows me to fictionalize the truth and paint fiction as fact. If you want me to explain, consider ‘Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields’. That should do.
I don’t sleep much because the horrors of the world keep me awake. The downside of this is that I can’t be woken up; no, not because I am awake, but when I pretend to sleep I cannot be woken up. But I do take a nap, now and then, like a little while ago. Now I am fresh and wide-awake. So I can be fresh and frank.
I was really angry that the Commonwealth decided to let Sri Lanka host CHOGM 2013. I am angry that Kamalesh Sharma doesn’t show any interest in returning my calls. I said that allowing CHOGM to go ahead helps Mahinda Rajapaksa, who I said is suspected of being a war criminal. I even said that the UN also suspects him of being a war criminal. I finally said that could lead to the breakup of the Commonwealth.
Well, here’s the truth. I am a film-maker who has acquired some journalistic credentials. Now if someone expects me to abide by the basic ethics of journalism, that’s too much to ask. Corroboration, verification of claims, reliability of sources and such are not things I concern myself with. For me, it is all about ‘splash’, which is the only way that a non-journalist can make a turn nonentity to name.
My work on Sri Lanka for Channel 4 would show any impartial AND well-informed viewer that short-cut, innuendo, clever editing and non-disclosure of important facts are the main ingredients in the stories I cook up. I’ve used LTTE and pro-LTTE sources and treated their ‘information’ as fact that requires no cross-checking. I’ve glorified directly and through association the worst terrorists the world has ever known. Sure, I indulge in occasional tokenism by inserting into script a censure-line on the LTTE, but that shouldn’t fool anyone. It is like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch with their sporadic barbs directed at the USA; just gives ‘balance’ to make slant sound ‘investigative’ and ‘exhaustive’.
Now if CHOGM should not be held in Sri Lanka because some people suspect Mahinda Rajapaksa of being a war criminal, as I pointed out to the Commonwealth Secretariat recently, someone can ask me if I’m suffering from selective amnesia. Yes, sadly, I am. But I am wide awake now. Commonwealth Heads of Government have met in countries with proven (not suspected) track-records of genocide and multiple crimes against humanity, war criminals all. Heck, if we are talking Commonwealth here, the entire narrative is predicated on genocide, plunder, culture-erasure and other horrible things.
The official head of the Commonwealth is Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth. Not too long ago, the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister no less, acknowledged that the invasion of Iraq was illegal. Britain has been party to war crimes in Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan. By tagging itself like a colony to the United States of America, Britain has made a case for expulsion from the Commonwealth.
Canada has hosted CHOGM. Australia too. The crimes against humanity perpetrated by governments in these country with respect to how they treat the first nations are well documented.
I think I should not ask why Sharma doesn’t speak to me, I should ask the logic of their being a job such as the one that Sharma has. Maybe it should be turned into a brand name such as Channel 4, where truth and falsehood obtain weight and worth as per label attached and for reasons of political expediency.
All this is giving me a headache. Right now I am wide awake and I just realized that I am shooting myself in the foot. Better get back to pretend-sleep. Don’t try to wake me up, for that would be a futile exercise.
*Malinda Seneviratne is the Chief Editor of ‘The Nation’ and his articles can be found at www.malindawords.blogspot.com