The Turkish Nobel Laureate Orhan Pamuk had informed the organizers of the Galle Literary Festival (GLF) in early January 2011 that he will be unable to participate in the Festival, due to what he considered to be Indian visa restrictions.
This notification preceded by more than two weeks the call to foreign writers by Noam Chomsky, Arundhati Roy and a few other writers, and by Reporters Sans Frontiers (RSF), to keep away from the GLF due to alleged Freedom of Expression issues in Sri Lanka, and therefore, has no relation to this call.
Any attempts to link the non-participation of Orhan Pamuk at the GLF to an alleged situation about Freedom of Expression in Sri Lanka is therefore wholly unfounded, and only serves the agenda of those seeking to tarnish the image of Sri Lanka abroad, the Director, Policy Research & Information of the Presidential Secretariat said.
It is also known that the Indian High Commission in Colombo had extended all assistance to the organizers of the GLF to resolve the strictly personal concerns of Mr. Pamuk with regard to re-entry to India, on his return after participation in the Galle Literary Festival. All these efforts, which included a written assurance of fully facilitated re-entry to India on his return journey, were to no avail. He was expected to come to the GLF after the Jaipur Literary Festival, India.
This is borne out by the statement issued by the Organizers of the GLF that said Mr Pamuk in an e-mail to the organisers said, “I am very sorry for and frustrated about this decision…I looked forward to seeing the beauties of Sri Lanka very much.” This e-mail had been received January 3, 2011, clearly more two weeks before the writers’ and RsF’s call for non participation in the Festival, which has now become a major international event in the world of literature.
Ms. Kiran Desai, the Booker prize winner, who has also expressed regrets about not participating in the Festival, has told the organizers: “Nobody could be sadder than me. I love Sri Lanka and had a super time the last time I was in Galle.”
The Galle Literary Festival will continue as scheduled from Wednesday 26thJanuary. The full programme can be seen on www.galleliteraryfestival.com
Also see “Galle Literary Festival: Record number of tickets sold” at info.gov.lk Jan 21, 2011.