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Ahead of elections, Sri Lanka leader suggests 70% hike for plantation workers

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ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister Ali Sabry criticized the stance taken by some Western nations on the human rights about Sri Lanka and blamed them for having double standards for political reasons.

Sri Lanka is facing an international investigation through a United Nation Human Rights Council (UNHRC) into its human rights records amid allegations that its military committed war crimes in the final phase of a 26-year civil conflict that ended in 2009.

Successive Sri Lankan governments have resisted international probes, but repeated resolutions led by Western nations including the United States, Britain, and Canada, where diaspora of ethnic minority Tamils are influential, have resulted in UNHRC ordering for an external probe.

“We have to look after our people’s human rights in our country. What are the human rights they (Western nations) have in their country?” Sabry asked the reporters in Colombo when he was questioned over why Sri Lanka’s relation with foreign countries is odd when it comes to human rights.

“16,000 people have been killed in Gaza. Are they asking to stop it? They fund it and provide arms. We don’t accept their double standards. But we need to treat our people with dignity.”

RIGHTS ABUSES 

Analysts say ethnic minority Tamils and Muslims have sought external intervention on human rights violations against them because of repeated failure mainly by the judiciary and police in implementing the rule of law.

They blame the police for using the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) to arrest people who are dissenting against those in power. At least 11 Tamil youth were arrested under the PTA last week for glorifying the banned organization of Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) who were defeated in the war 14 years ago.

However, Sabry said he disagrees using PTA “unnecessarily”.

“I don’t agree with the recent PTA arrests. The PTA was amended when I was the justice minister. It is not because of what they (foreign countries) say. But we need to create a situation to allow the Tamils to live with dignity in the country,” he said.

“We request the young Tamil generation not to join the idea of separatism. All the local Tamil leaders in parliament say they do not have the separatist ideology. However, the Tamil diaspora still has that ideology.”

He said the Truth Reconciliation Commission should come to serve justice for Tamil and the PTA should be changed.

“What we advise is people can do memorialization. We don’t have an issue with that. Even the parents of Prabakaran (LTTE leader) can have a remembrance event for their son. But don’t glorify LTTE,” he said.

“Memorializing your loved ones, we have absolutely no problem. But glorifying a banned terrorist organization which brought violence to this country, which sent a generation of Tamils backward, we don’t want a repeat of that. No one wants that.”

“We must solve our problem here. No one else is going to solve our problem. They (Tamil diaspora) are doing vote bank politics.” (COLOMBO/Dec 8/2023)


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