06/14/2007, 00.00
SRI LANKA
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Tamil deportations: the government defends itself by attacking the international community

According to the Ministry for Defence, western powers are “bullying” Sri Lanka using “unfounded” reports on the deterioration of human rights in the country. While army’s responsibility for the numerous disappeared is denied, unofficial sources report that the mutilated body found months back in Jaffna belongs to Fr. Jim Brown. The Archbishop of Colombo: “It has arrived at the point were the sacredness of human life has become a myth”.

Colombo (AsiaNews) – Sri Lanka’s government has launched a bitter attack on the International community’s criticism of recent violations of human rights in the country, fuelled by reports of  the forced deportation of Tamils from the capital Colombo, which the government claims was motivated by “security reasons”.    In a BBC interview the Minister for Defence, Gotabaya Rajpakse, declared that the reports of deteriorating human rights conditions in the country were unfounded and that they were being used by world powers to “bully” Colombo.  “Britain or Western countries, EU countries, they can do whatever. – he said - We don't depend on them.” These “concerns” linked to human rights have recently forced both Great Britain and the United States to reduce their aid flow to Colombo.  

According to the minister, brother of President Mahinda Rajapkse, it is unthinkable that a government can be both just and respectful of human rights at a time when they are facing the threat of terrorism.  He did not spare even the United Nations, where – “in 30 years numerous Tamil rebel elements have infiltrated”.  Both London and UN have firmly rejected these claims; while the opposition in Parliament today distanced itself from the minister’s declarations accusing him of “having no authority to take such positions”.

Regarding the many disappearances in areas controlled by the military Rajapakse explains: “When other military’s carry out secret operations they are called covert operations. When something is (done) in Sri Lanka, they call it abductions,” he added. “This is playing with the words”. Among the thousands of cases of missing people, is that of Fr. Jim Brown, who disappeared August 20th last.  Recently news have come to light, yet to be confirmed that a mutilated body found in March could be that of the young Parish Priest from Allaipiddy, in the North.

Since the country sunk once again back into the depths of civil war between the Tamil Tiger rebels and the military, almost a year ago, more than 5 thousand people have been killed and hundreds of thousands made homeless in the North eastern provinces.  In mass marking Corpus Domini on June 10th, the Archbishop of Colombo, Msgr. Oswald Gomis, recalled: “Whoever the criminals may be, it is the people who are suffering from terror and tyranny.  Today one group, tomorrow another. We are witnesses to a rise in violence not only in the areas of war, but right across the country.  People have lost all moral values: all of this shows that at this point, the sacred nature of life has become pure myth”.

 

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