Stung by rights criticism, Sri Lanka summons US, UK, EU and other ambassadors

[TamilNet, Friday, 14 December 2007, 16:31 GMT]
Sri Lanka's militaristic government said Friday it had hauled in the envoys of countries calling for UN human rights monitoring of the island's dirty war against the Tamil Tigers, AFP reported. The ambassadors of the United States, the European Union, France, Korea and Sweden were summoned for a dressing down by foreign ministry secretary Palitha Kohona, AFP quoted the ministry as saying. Diplomats from Canada and the Netherlands will also be summoned Friday, the ministry said, adding a complaint over remarks made at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva this week will be forwarded to New Zealand's Delhi-based envoy.

The foreign ministry in Colombo said it had conveyed its "serious concern" that Sri Lanka, which has categorically rejected the presence of foreign monitors, was being subjected to escalating international criticism.

Colombo also expressed its "deep displeasure" to Britain's high commissioner to Sri Lanka, Dominic Chilcott, over comments interpreted as being sympathetic to the Tamil demand for independence.

The foreign ministry "drew attention to the high commissioner's comment, 'I am not saying that the political aspiration for Eelam (separate Tamil state) is illegitimate' and expressed the government's deep concern," the statement said.

Chilcott had also warned the government, which insists it now has the upper hand in the war with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), should clean up its human rights record or risk sanctions.

"At a time when the painstaking process of evolving a negotiated political settlement was under way, such sentiments would have a negative impact and send confusing signals," the Sri Lankan foreign ministry said.

“We would tell the British high commissioner not to interfere in the internal affairs of our country,” IANS quoted Cabinet Minister and Chief Government Whip Jeyaraj Fernandopulle as saying Thursday.

'Chilcott still thinks that Sri Lanka is a colony of Britain,' said Fernandopulle.

Fernandopulle said that in the late 1980s, Sri Lanka had expelled British High Commissioner David Gladstone for overstepping his brief.

Gladstone had entered a polling station at Dikwella and publicly complained about the malpractices taking place there, IANS reported.

The government insists it is working on a political package aimed at addressing the demands of ethnic Tamils, but at the same time says it wants to totally "eliminate" the LTTE.


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