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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 110

Take responsibility for the politicization of the campaign, Sri Lanka tells Amnesty International

Neville de Silva, Diplomatic Editor Asian Tribune

London, April 22 ( Sri Lanka has told Amnesty International (AI), the human rights body that launched a controversial campaign against Sri Lanka, that it should take responsibility for the politicization that followed its launch last month to coincide with the World Cup Cricket in the West Indies.

While AI's secretary-general Irene Khan is now trying to wash her hands off this ill conceived campaign and shift the blame on the LTTE accusing it of misrepresentation, Sri Lanka has said it regrets to note that AI's public statements have failed to lay the onus on the LTTE whereas Khan has only said so in a letter to President Mahinda Rajapakse.

By saying so in a letter to the president, but not in AI's public pronouncements, AI only strengthens the widely-held perception that the LTTE is closely associated with Amnesty's campaign.

In a letter last week to AI's Asia-Pacific director Purna Sen, Sri Lanka has said that it warned as early as April 2 that AI's campaign to draw attention to human rights abuses in Sri Lanka could be exploited by the LTTE to propagandize its separatist cause, informed sources told the “Asian Tribune.”

In the letter, Sri Lanka's High Commission in London Kshenuka Senewiratne is reported to have pointed to the recent incident where a flag-waving supporter of the LTTE, an organization banned in over 25 countries as a terrorist group, had invaded the field in Grenada during a World Cup match between Sri Lanka and Australia.

The man was later apprehended by security at the grounds and evicted from the grounds, ICC officials confirmed.

Subsequently he was arrested by the local police and was deported to Canada where he lives.

This incident was publicized by pro-LTTE websites and an interview with the individual was carried on his return to Canada.

While AI did not, at first take the warnings seriously, the human rights watchdog is now shifting the blame on to the LTTE saying that the LTTE had taken over its campaign for its own political purposes.

The High Commissioner has told AI, our sources said, that its campaign had been heavily condemned by Sri Lankan abroad including those in the UK and the public in Sri Lanka, as unethical.

The High Commissioner has therefore asked AI to call off its campaign now that it is becoming a threat to the safety of the Sri Lankan cricketers, the officials and fans who have turned up at the matches in the West Indies.

Saying that Sri Lanka is gravely concerned at the abuse of this campaign by a terrorist organization, the letter points out that these developments are the direct result of an ill conceived campaign that has politicized sports.

- Asian Tribune -

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