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SL lacks basic rights and freedoms: Britain

Sri Lanka and the UK have resumed their diplomatic war of words following a special statement by British foreign secretary David Miliband that raised the issue of lack of basic human rights like equality for all communities and media freedom in this country.

world Updated: Mar 31, 2010 19:31 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis

Sri Lanka and the UK have resumed their diplomatic war of words following a special statement by British foreign secretary David Miliband that raised the issue of lack of basic human rights like equality for all communities and media freedom in this country.

Miliband’s statement comes a day after the British House of Commons said it regrets UK arms exports to Sri Lanka during the fragile ceasefire period (between 2002 and 2008) and suggested that the UK government should take a "longer term view about unstable countries" when exporting arms as where the weapons end up and how they would be used become important.

In his statement, Miliband said the first priority in Sri Lanka concerns the renunciation of violence. ``It is through politics that social and economic change occurs and not through violence. Violence does not serve any of the communities in Sri Lanka,” Miliband said in his special statement. He added the second priority concerned the social economic political rights of all Sri Lankans on an equal basis. “Many of you will be concerned for the run up to and after the recent Presidential Elections and also the restrictions on media freedom in Sri Lanka. It is very vital that we understand that a healthy democracy thrives not just through elections but also through an independent judiciary in an independent society,” Miliband said. The Sri Lankan government said the timing of Miliband’s statement was suspect as it came a week before the April 8 general election.

Defence spokesperson Minister Keheliya Rambukwella told Daily Mirror online that it seemed Britain was attempting to suppress the victories achieved by the Sri Lankan government against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Miliband had recently invited stringent criticism from Colombo by addressing the Global Tamil Forum, which the Lankan government insists is one of the international fronts of the Tamil Tigers.