Thursday, February 19, 2009

Complete Clip: Sri Lanka Foreign Secretary in PBS - Interview with Tavis Smiley

Los Angeles: In an exclusive conversation, via satellite from Colombo, Sri Lanka's Foreign Secretary Dr. Palitha Kohona responded to the genocide allegations made by the Oscar- and Grammy- nominated British born Tamil rapper M.I.A on last night's edition of Tavis Smiley talk show on PBS.

Responding to a question from the host on M.I.A's comment on alleged genocide of Tamil people of Sri Lanka Kohona said "M.I.A. is a great artist and we wish her well," "But, sorry, I think she is misinformed and it's best that she stays with what she's good at, which is music. Not politics."

Addressing the ethnic issue, Foreign Secretary Kohona said there is a whole complex situation on the ground of Sri Lanka.

"The Tamil people are our people. They are our brothers, they are our sisters, they live amongst us. I don't think there is a problem that the Sinhalese have with Tamils. They do have a problem with the Tamil Tigers," he said.

When asked whether the Sri Lankan government is engaged in genocide of Tamil people Kohona pointed out that 54% or more of the Tamil population live normal lives in the government controlled areas among the Sinhalese, Muslims and other races.

If there were genocide what all these Tamil people doing in the government controlled areas, he asked.

"Being the only Tamil in the Western media, I have a really great opportunity to sort of bring forward what’s going on in Sri Lanka, There’s a genocide going on.” M.I.A. said in an interview on the PBS program last month.

Kohona accusing the Tigers of holding civilians as human shields said civilians are paying the price for the ambitions of a small group.

He said the Sri Lankan government is doing all it can to get the civilians to the government controlled areas.

Clip from Tavis Smiley show on PBS: