TVUNGET TIL TAUSHET (original title)
SILENCED VOICES (English title)

A documentary film by Beate Arnestad

Norwegian Title: Tvunget til Taushet (60 min)
En historie om journalister fra Sri Lanka

English title: Silenced Voices (60 min)
Tales of Sri Lankan Journalists in Exile

Production year: 2012
Production company: SF Norge
Copyright: Arnestad Insight
Sales: Arnestad Insight
Screening format: DCP/HDCAM/BLUE-RAY
Spoken language: English, Tamil, Sinhala
Voice: Norwegian, English subtitles


This is a film about freedom of speech and the messengers of truth to portray how much individuals are willing to offer to bring information to light. The film is told as a personal encounter with exiled journalists who have been "silenced" and almost killed in their home country because they exposed war crimes, corruption and massacres of civilians. They claim these crimes have been committed by the state. Miraculously, they have managed to escape their home country and are now in "safe" countries in the west. Following extensive research, collaboration was established with the two known Sri Lankan journalists, Sonali and Bashana. Both are continuing their work from secret hiding. They know they are fighting a lonely and dangerous battle against the enormous amount of propaganda spread by government officials to ensure the world will never know what really went on. They are putting their own lives at risk to be messengers of the crimes that they are convinced their government has implicated itself in. (Sri Lanka is ranking one of the worst countries in Asia with respect to freedom of expression. In the past few years, several have been murdered or just disappeared. Close to 50 media workers have recently fled the country.)

A free press, independent journalism—are among our important democratic values.  Its founders, however, could not have imagined a world, such as today, when information is increasingly exchanged through a global network. What that means, in short, is that restrictions on a free press anywhere in the world become restrictions everywhere in the world, as the global community is denied important sources of information. Such information is more important than ever because, in many nations, reporting budgets are shrinking, and the world becomes even more dependent for information on journalists in their home countries. To the extent that they are compromised, we all are compromised.

The film may have political implications and may also serve as an example of how maintaining human rights and avoiding war crimes must all too often give way under the political and economic interests of the superpowers. The film may also illustrate that the actions of individual people can genuinely contribute to change.

The participating journalists:
Sonali Samarasinghe
Sharmila Logeswaram
A. Lokeesan

Sonali's write-up:

Sonali Samarasinghe is a lawyer and award-winning journalist/editor from Sri Lanka. For over a decade of a career spanning 23 years she worked with her husband editor Lasantha Wickrematunge until 8 January 2009 when he was brutally murdered by Sri Lankan authorities. Shortly thereafter Sonali was forced into exile due to threats to her own life. She continues the struggle as Editor of the Lanka Standard website.   

Bashana's write-up:

Bashana Abeywardane is a Sri Lankan journalist and a writer living in exile. He has been working as a journalist since 1992 and was forced into exile in 2006. He is currently serving as the Convener of the exiled Sri Lankan rights group, Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka (JDS).