Keeping up his combative posture and playing to the domestic constituency, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Thursday hit out at the international community for its “selective targeting” of his country on human rights issues.
Addressing the pre-CHOGM (Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting) press briefing, Rajapaksa said he was ready to have a dialogue with the Tamil diaspora, but asserted “but we are not going divide our country”.
However, he said he was willing to act against anyone found guilty by Sri Lankan law of violating human rights.
The Sri Lankan government is facing criticism in various quarters for alleged human rights abuses against the Tamil minority during the country’s long and bloody civil war, which ended in 2009. “We have eradicated terrorism ... No bombs go off in the country now,” the President said.
“Children and pregnant women were killed during those 30 years. People used to get killed here every day. And nobody talked about human rights then. After 2009, we stopped it,” the President said.
“I am ready for a dialogue with all on the issues. We can discuss and find solutions.”
When asked about his meeting with British Prime Minister David Cameron, who had said he would have questions for the President, Rajapaksa said, “I will be meeting him. I will also have some questions for him.”“What is happening in the Middle East in the name of the democracy,” he asked in an apparent reference to the countries in the West being less vocal on those in West Asia.
He also ruled out the growing demand that Lanka should subject itself to a transparent international probe, saying his country’s judicial system had to be respected. The President took note of efforts by the Commonwealth in strengthening institutions like the Human Rights Commission in Sri Lanka.