Sri Lanka on BBC’s Hardtalk, Gotabhaya fields questions

The BBC World Service will air four HARDtalk programs on Sri Lanka beginning Monday (June 7) on BBC World News, BBC announced from London.

The first of the four-part series will begin with "Tamils and the broken north" with Stephen Sackur talking to military officials, the Defence Secretary and former LTTE fighters (who BBC said live in hiding) and civilians trying to rebuild their lives.

Tuesday’s program is titled "Democracy under threat" and Sackur will talk to Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapakse, the brother of the President. He asks "Has Sri Lanka’s ruling family replaced democracy with their own authoritarian rule?" BBC said.

Wednesday’s program is titled "Former Tiger child soldiers rebuilding their lives."

This is described as "one of the untold stories of the Sri Lanka conflict; what has become of the hundreds of children conscripted and forced to fight as part of the Tamil Tiger army?" the BBC release said.The blurb says hardtalk ``gains exclusive access to the Sri Lanka government’s child soldier rehabilitation program."

Here Stephen Sackur talks to the rehabilitation program director, to teachers and "to the teenagers themselves about their horrific experiences and new lives.’’

"The program poses a troubling question; should the victorious Sri Lanka military really be responsible for the rehabilitation of the traumatized and vulnerable Tamil teens?’’ the blurb said.

The final part of the program is an interview with Sri Lanka’s powerful Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapakse which is described as a hard hitting one-on-one interview.

"Stephen Sackur questions the Defence Secretary on the Sri Lanka army’s conduct in the final days of the war, accusation of war crimes, the economy, democracy, the judiciary, freedom of the press and the future of the Tamil people in Sri Lanka.’’

Broadcast times are 0330h, 0830h, 1530h and 2030h GMT.

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