Sri Lanka approves on arrival visa for Callum Macrae

Callum Macrae - Channel 4

Sri Lanka has approved on arrival visa to controversial UK Channel 4 Director, Callum Macrae, despite the fact that he has not been granted a visa to enter India to join a delegation led by UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, who will be in New Delhi on 14 November.

Macrae, who earned the ire of Sri Lankan authorities for his documentary, No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka, was expecting to fly to Sri Lanka to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), after his visit to India.

Minister of Mass Media and Information, Keheliya Rambukwella, confirmed that the on arrival visa has been granted to Macrae and that he had applied for the visa with a group of 30 UK based media personnel who will come here along with the UK Prime Minister from India on 14 November, to attend CHOGM.

“As he is expected to come here with the UK PM’s media group, we have granted him the visa along with the rest. However, now that he has been denied visa to India, he will not be able to be with David Cameron’s team, who will make a day-long visit in India, before heading to Sri Lanka to attend CHOGM,” the minister said. “This indicates that Macrae will have to apply again for the visa to come to Sri Lanka to be present for CHOGM, in case he is unable to make it to India with Cameron’s 30-member media group. If he fails to make it to India, he will have to apply separately and we would await his visa application,” Rambukwella said.

Meanwhile, Macrae told Ceylon Today he received official confirmation from Sri Lanka that he will be granted a visa on arrival. However, he is concerned over the delay in getting the visa for India to attend the premiere of his latest film on Sri Lanka in Delhi, on 7 November.

According to Macrae, he had applied for the Indian visa in February this year, in order to attend the pre-launch press conference about the film. Macrae said he applied at the same time as his producer – but despite the fact that she was granted a visa, he was not. His passport was returned to him marked, ‘Visa Applied For…’

Macrae has made several approaches to the Indian authorities, in an attempt to get some news on the application, but to no avail. “If so, it would be doubly ironic given that Sri Lanka itself – under pressure from the Commonwealth – has publicly agreed to give me a visa for CHOGM. The High Commission has now had my application for over eight months – and I now see no option, if it is not granted today (5 November), but to turn up at the Indian High Commission in London in person and ask for it to be issued there and then.”

(Courtesy: Ceylon Today)