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Sunday, 6 November 2011

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Screening of 'Lies Agreed Upon':

Positive response in Washington

The Sri Lankan Congressional Caucus and Embassy of Sri Lanka sponsored the screening of the video 'Lies Agreed Upon,' - a rebuttal of allegations made about the end of Sri Lanka's conflict against terrorists by a British news program.The screening included a panel discussion of Sri Lanka's 26-year battle against the terrorist group, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, and reconciliation and redevelopment efforts since Government forces defeated the LTTE in May 2009.The event was attended by a large representative gathering including NGOs, human rights groups, Congressional staff members, professionals and members of the Sri Lankan community."This is an important opportunity for both sides to be heard," said US Congressman Robert Aderholt, Co-chair of the Sri Lankan Congressional Caucus.

Apart from the screening, guests and Congressional staff members also viewed portions of a speech by Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa on the release of the Defence Ministry's report: Humanitarian Operations Factual Analysis July 2006 to May 2009.

Congressman Jack Kingston, who two weeks ago was one of three members of Congress to visit Sri Lanka, spoke during the screening: "I had a casual conversation with a police officer," He said, 'Things are different now. We are getting back to normal. You can go to the marketplace again. We are so happy and pleased.' This was an off-the-record comment, and what it did framed so much of what I walked away with."

Minister of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development Dr. Rajitha Senarathna also attended the screening. He described how redevelopment of the North has created jobs and aided those who have resettled there, and how the economy is improving with the fishing industry.

The discussion panellists included Sri Lankan Ambassador in the US Jaliya Wickramasuriya; Ru Freeman, a Sri Lankan native, author and activist whose recent novel, A Disobedient Girl, has won popular acclaim; and Raymond Vickery, a senior director at the Albright-Stonebridge Group, a Washington-based international relations firm that is headed by former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

Ambassador Wickramasuriya spoke of Sri Lanka's longstanding relationship and strong trade ties with the US, reconciliation and redevelopment work and efforts by the expatriate community in the US to help relatives back home."I look forward to your continued support to enhance the image of Sri Lanka as a peaceful and reconciled society, which is governed by democracy, the observance of human rights and the rule of law," Ambassador Wickramasuriya told the audience. "What we wish for is cooperation, friendship and goodwill to take our country forward."

Ru Freeman told the audience that until recently, she had not been to Northern Sri Lanka since she was a child, but that a trip there last year with her children and husband left her hopeful.

Congressman Aderholt, in particular, noted that "both sides of this story need to be heard," and that the 'Lies Agreed Upon' screening represents an effort to fully air the issues involved. "There needs to be balance."

 

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