some of that diversity.I was back in London on an assignment for International Alert to collect theperspectives of a cross-section of the diaspora. My journey would take mearound the homes of different individuals living in London, to events in thediaspora calendar, as well as to meet those returning to Sri Lanka.
Making Diaspora Diaries
I knew that I could tell only part of the story but I was especially keen onmeeting those who held strong views on accountability in Sri Lanka. Thosewho had reservations on whether to engage with Sri Lanka at all and whofelt that they were not ready for reconciliation. I wanted to hear their side of the story and to understand why they felt that way. The series of filmed portraits I made eventually became the
, looking at ways in which the diaspora engaged with Sri Lanka.
Nikini Jayatunga: A young voice for reconciliation
My assignment began with an initiative of
– aLondon-based group that uses art and culture as a way of bringingcommunities together and talking about the conflict.Niki – who is Sinhalese, born and raised in England – asked me to showsome of my work at aneventshe was hosting at the
ideas resonated with my work in Sri Lanka and so I agreed totake part. The event went well – the audience had been supportive andthere was a lively discussion after a show and tell of work by artists, writersand filmmakers. But I did sense that I was preaching to the choir. Thereweren’t any diaspora in the audience with more vociferous views –individuals I was hoping to meet and interview for my series of films.
Paul Sathianesan: From refugee to deputy mayor
Days later, I visited Newham, a Tamil diaspora heartland in East London tomeet its local councilor, Paul Sathianesan, who came to the UK in the 1980sas a war refugee.We sat and talked in a Tamil-run café opposite Newham tube station. Paultold me about the dilemmas he faced in his work as councilor. He often feltconflicted. Although many of his constituents wanted him to take a firmerstance on the question of accountability, he felt that he could not single outone perspective. I’m sure that being a Tamil made these decisions thatmuch harder for him.