SA author boycotts Sri Lankan book festival over human rights issues

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Colombo, Jan 28 (ANI): Internationally acclaimed South African author Damon Galgut has boycotted a book festival in Sri Lanka because of concerns over that country's human rights record.

Galgut withdrew his name from the Galle Literary Festival that was issued last week by a Paris-based campaign group, the BBC reports.

Reporters without Borders, a group campaigning for journalists' rights, reportedly made the call, and was supported by lobby groups and well-known international writers.

The organisers reportedly announced Galgut's decision on the opening ceremony of the festival.

International writers who decided to boycott the event said that it was inappropriate for Sri Lanka to celebrate literature when its government itself suppresses dissident voices.

The festival curator and Sri Lankan novelist, Shyam Selvadurai, said he agreed there were disturbing human rights issues in the country, but added that boycott is not a solution.

"I'm very sorry Mr Galgut dropped out because he has written about post-apartheid South Africa. And there would have been a lot for our people to have learnt from listening to him. And now by his dropping out, there is a void, a silence," he said.

Two other prominent authors withdrew earlier but the organisers say this was nothing to do with the protest campaign. However, over 60 authors participated in the event, including China's Jung Chang and India's Tishani Doshi. (ANI)

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