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Protests against controversial IIFA event draw attention on Tamil genocide

[TamilNet, Thursday, 3 June 2010 08:15 No Comment]

As protests gathered momentum in Tamil Nadu and Mumbai, with the support of South Indian Film Chamber of Commerce (SIFCC), against holding International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) Awards weekend in Colombo, big stars from the Indian film industry have decided to avoid participation, media reports from Mumbai said. Hindustan Times reported that the event was turning out to be IIFAs most controversial, even before it has been held. The protests in South India have also brought media attention in New Delhi. The NDTV has timed a documentary, titled ‘Blood on Water,’ accommodating Tamil perspectives and an Indian doctor who was part of an Indian paramedic team present in Vavuniyaa last year, during the final phase of the war in Vanni, has spoken out on the scale of the slaughter as "massive casualties" among the civilian population.

The Indian paramedic team had treated more than 40,000 Tamils in Vavuniyaa internment camp the doctor who spoke with Hindustan Times said on condition of anonymity Tuesday. The doctor put the casualty figure based on an 80 per cent figure in the region of 30,000.

The Indian television channels used the term ‘genocide’ for the first time while reporting Tamil protests against the IIFA Weekend in Colombo.

Meanwhile, the Sri Lankan High Commissioner in New Delhi demanded the Indian NDTV news channel to withdraw the documentary ‘Blood on Water’, saying it carried ‘inaccuracies’ Daily Mirror reported Wednesday, a day before the controversial IIFA festival.

Officials of South Indian Film Chamber of Commerce (SIFCC), who met Bollywood main personalities in Mumbai, said films featuring the personalities who participate in the IIFA event in Colombo would not be screened in South India as it was decided on Tuesday.

The presence of the Hindi cinema legend Amitabh Bachchan in the event is uncertain, reports said. The star, also known as ‘Big B’ recently visited Colombo, met the Sri Lankan president and described the island a paradise in his position as Brand Ambassador of the IIFA event. Another key star, Shahrukh Kahn, who was reportedly scheduled to play with the Sri Lankan cricketers as part of the showbiz event, has changed his priorities avoiding the event. Several other stars, citing various reasons, also avoided their presence.

However, Sabbas Joseph, the director of IIFA, came out with a biased comment to The Times saying that no Tamil actors [from India] were invited to the International Indian Film Academy event, and thus they were not boycotting.

“Politics should never be confused with entertainment,” he was further quoted as saying by The Times.

However, the politico-economic factors that are highly intertwined with the IIFA event, have been exposed by Tamil activists in Tamil Nadu.

Informed sources in India say that the decision to announce Colombo as the venue for IIFA-Weekend was influenced at top level through the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) and Wizcraft International Entertainment Pvt. Ltd., the company behind the showbiz.

According to its website, the FICCI, which describes itself as a non-government, not-for-profit organisation, claims it is “working closely with the Indian government on policy issues,” also adding that it functions as “the first port of call for Indian industry and the international business community.”

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