Author Topic: David Cameron's car surrounded by Sri Lankan protesters  (Read 2129 times)

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Offline mayya

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David Cameron's car surrounded by Sri Lankan protesters
« on: November 15, 2013, 19:45:58 PM »
David Cameron's car surrounded by Sri Lankan protesters

Tamil people try to hand over pictures of loved ones still missing after civil war, during prime minister's tour of north

David Cameron's car was surrounded by hundreds of Tamil protesters, who were held back by the military when they tried to hand him pictures of their missing loved ones, as he visited Sri Lanka's war-scarred north.

As world leaders gathered in Colombo for the Commonwealth summit, the British prime minister flew to the northern city of Jaffna to meet the region's new Tamil first minister, CV Vigneswaran, of the Tamil National Alliance, and people affected by the 25-year civil war.

Shortly after arriving, Cameron's convoy was mobbed by protesters, many of them women, hoping to highlight the disappearance of their relatives.

Cameron then travelled to meet journalists at the Uthayan newspaper, who blame the deaths of six of their colleagues on masked paramilitary gangs sent by the government. After assassination attempts, the paper's editor has lived in his office for years.

There have been six attacks on the premises and staff this year. Cameron toured a burnt-out printing press, the scene of an arson attack.

David Cameron talks to residents at a camp for internally displaced people in Chunnakam, Jaffna. Photograph: Eranga Jayawardena/AP

He then visited a nearby refugee camp, described by the government as a "welfare village", where around 150 families have lived in makeshift accommodation since being displaced 23 years ago.

Members of the military police were present outside the newspaper and throughout the village. A small group of protesters outside the village held placards calling for Britain's colonial crimes to be investigated.
Suharsha Uthayaswriyan, the deputy leader of the settlement, repeatedly said his people were not angry with the government but they lived in bad conditions and "just want to go back to their lands".

On Friday afternoon Cameron will return to Colombo to shake hands with Mahinda Rajapaksa, the Sri Lankan president, and attempt to persuade him to investigate allegations of war crimes, torture and kidnappings of Tamil opponents.

On Friday morning Cameron said that in his meeting with Rajapaksa he would quote Winston Churchill on the idea that there should be magnanimity in victory, referring to the defeat of Tamil Tiger separatists in 2009.

Cameron at the Sabapathi Pillay welfare centre in Jaffna. Photograph: Lakruwan Wanniarachchi/AFP/Getty Images

He said going to Jaffna "helps the people in the north of the island have a voice". Asked whether those he would speak to might fear reprisals, he said: "I am sure there will be difficulties. But that, in a way, will tell its own story. If that's the case that will be a demonstration of the difficulties in terms of freedom of speech and freedom of assembly, freedom of movement and the key freedoms that we value."

On Thursday in India, Cameron condemned Sri Lanka's failure to investigate allegations of "chilling and appalling" war crimes, and promised to raise continuing allegations of human rights abuses and the need for an independent inquiry into historic war crimes.

During the meeting with Rajapaksa he will also raise concerns about attacks on Christians and Muslims, intimidation of journalists and discrimination against Tamils.

However, the encounter is likely to provoke a diplomatic battle after the president insisted his country had nothing to hide and resisted calls for further inquiries.

Tamil women cry holding portraits of missing relatives at a protest in Jaffna, Sri Lanka, during David Cameron's visit. Photograph: Eranga Jayawardena/AP

Cameron used his strongest language to criticise Sri Lanka's human rights record after watching a Channel 4 documentary about atrocities allegedly committed by state forces in the last months of the war.

After speaking to the United Nations, the prime minister said images of war crimes had been independently verified.
The British Tamil community is pressing Cameron to tackle Rajapaksa on allegations of torture, the disappearance of government opponents and intimidation of the media since the end of the war.

A Downing Street source said Cameron would push for specific goals, including "quick wins" such as lifting a bar on singing the national anthem in Tamil.

Rajapaksa has said his country is open about its past and has a good legal system to deal with allegations. "If anyone wants to complain about the human rights violations in Sri Lanka, whether it is torture, whether it is rape … we have a system," Rajapaksa said at a news conference in Colombo.

He confirmed that he had agreed to meet Cameron, and suggested his response would be combative: "I will be meeting him and we will see what, I will also have to ask some questions."

Sri Lanka's media minister, Keheliya Rambukwella, said Cameron could not make demands of the country as if it was a British colony.

He told the BBC: "We are a sovereign nation. You think someone can just make a demand from Sri Lanka. It can be a cordial request. We are not a colony. We are an independent state."

« Last Edit: November 15, 2013, 21:14:29 PM by ɔʇx »