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'We have lost 77 parents from protests, yet Murali belittled our struggle' – Families of the disappeared urge Vijay Sethupathi to drop project

The families of the disappeared in the North-East have urged Vijay Sethupathi to not play the biopic of Muttiah Muralitharan as he is “someone who lacks compassion and does not have empathy” whilst also stressing that he “belittled the protests by the mothers of the disappeared.”

The 8 district representatives of the Association of Families of the Disappeared in the North-East met the media in Jaffna on Monday, where they voiced their request.

“We express our discontent on behalf of the families of the disappeared regarding this matter. Although actor Vijay Sethupathi may not have known the full details of Muralitharan when he was contracted for the project, he should be aware of the criticism currently coming from the Tamil people and from social media,” they said.  

“Muralitharan may be a great sportsman but he has disrespected the entire Tamil people. He as a Tamil has openly said that the day the Tamil people were massacred was the happiest day for him. He is only Tamil through his name as he continues to show loyalty to those who killed our relatives.

Even those who are our enemies will not say that day is a happy day. Even Sinhalese people have shed tears over our plight. But being a Tamil, he has unashamedly said that 2009 was a pleasant day for him. He has proved that he is inhumane.

Furthermore, he has presented a false narrative of our struggle and of us in the past. So we are certain in saying that this film about him should not be produced.”

In response to former British Prime Minister David Cameron’s visit to Jaffna, where he promised that he will “shine a light on Sri Lanka” and Muralitharan’s subsequent comments, the families of the disappeared stated:

“When David Cameron arrived in Jaffna, many of the relatives of the missing persons, gathered in Jaffna to tell the international community about our problems. When an international journalist asked Muralitharan about the issue, he heartlessly, without the slightest bit of compassion and humanity stated, “Just because 20 to 30 mothers are protesting, it doesn’t make it true.”  Only those who possess a monstrous nature, with the inability to understand the feelings and affection the relatives could have said such things. Keep your mouth shut if you do not know about a subject. We strongly condemn those who insult our protests then and we condemn them today.”

“Muralitharan is not worthy enough to insult our struggle,” they reiterated.

Despite actor Sethupathi assumedly dropping the project, the families of the disappeared urged him to come out and clarify that he has distanced himself fully from the project:

“Our request is that the biography of someone who has killed our emotions should not be played by a popular Tamil film actor who is loved by Tamils. Actors, associations, directors and associations and film contractors in Tamil Nadu should also not allow this film to be produced by anyone else and should put pressure on any efforts to do so.

We are still struggling to find our missing relatives and we have lost 77 parents that have been a part of our continuous protests for justice. Vijay Sethupathi must think of us as his mothers and should give up trying to play the biography of Muralitharan who insulted our campaign.

Please consider our grievances when we ask you as our own child - when you can clearly see there is a pit in front of you do not try to dip your foot into it. We urge you to immediately withdraw from this film deal and respect our feelings.”

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