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Lanka getting isolated: Samaraweera

The ex-minister says Lanka is getting globally isolated under Mahinda's rule, reports PK Balachandran.

india Updated: Feb 16, 2007 12:59 IST

Sri Lanka is getting isolated internationally as a result of the human rights violations, killings and abductions going on under President Mahinda Rajapaksa's rule, says Mangala Samaraweera, former Foreign and Ports Minister, who now heads a rebel group in the ruling Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP).

The Rajapaksa government would not realise that the real battle against the terrorist LTTEis to be fought in the international arenaand not in the jungles of the Wanni, Samaraweera told a media conference in Colombo on Thursday.

And because of the government's disregard for the concerns of the international community, Sri Lanka was being equated with countries like Sudan, he pointed out.

Samaraweera said that there was nothing wrong in investigating the complaints made by the international community about human rights violations or the conduct of the Security Forces, because there could be a few bad eggs even in a very professional force like the Sri Lankan Army.

But when he wanted the government to investigate the complaints in regard to the killing of the 17 workers of the French aid agency "Action Against Hunger", the powers-that-be in the government objected on the grounds that agreeing to investigate was tantamount to accepting guilt.

What the government was ignoring in the process, was the fact that such an attitude was only helping the LTTE build a case for sendinga UN monitoring or fact finding mission to Sri Lanka, Samaraweera said.

"We should by all means prevent this. But the only way to stop it will be to stop the human rights violations and investigate the allegations," he argued.

Accusing President and his two brothers of "trying to create dictatorship," Samaraweera said that there was an "emerging tyranny" in Sri Lanka.

He said that he would be handing over a letter to President Rajapaksa in which he had set forth 10 demands aimed at getting the government to take the "middle path", which was the path of Rajapaksa's own election manifesto "Mahinda Chintana."

Samaraweera said that he was not opposed to the existence of a "kitchen cabinet".

All he opposed was the kitchen cabinet's being composed of "non-politicians and foreign passport holders".

He strongly deprecated the tendency to dub anyone who opposed the government as an LTTE agent.

In this context he pointed out that he was a known target of the LTTE's hit squad.

Samaraweera also said that apart from the LTTE, some other forces in Sinhala-speaking South Sri Lanka posed a threat to his life and that of his fellow dissident, Sripathi Sooriarachchi.

"I would like the international community to know that our lives are in great danger," he said.

First Published: Feb 16, 2007 12:59 IST