Sri Lanka criticizes sections of diplomatic corps for creating tension among communities
Wednesday, 06 August 2014 - 11:46
Sri Lanka has criticized certain sections of the diplomatic community for involving in events targeting a particular region and community which lead to volatile situations and urged the diplomatic community to be more conscious of local sensitivities when attending events of an emotive nature.
Responding to the international criticism over the disruption of a civil society meeting attended by the families of missing persons by a group led by extremist Buddhist monks on Monday, Sri Lanka's External Affairs Ministry said a tense situation occurred when two NGOs got into an argument over presenting their grievances.
Issuing a statement Tuesday, the Ministry said according to reports, a meeting had been organized by the NGO "Right to Life Human Rights Centre" involving families of disappeared persons from the North at the Centre for Society and Religion in Colombo on 4th August.
However, another NGO, "Parents' Collective of Disappeared Persons", had also sought access to the meeting, demanding that their grievances be heard too.
An ensuing argument between the two groups had led to a tense situation which had subsequently been brought under control by law enforcement authorities, the Ministry explained.
Noting that several diplomatic representatives from western missions based in Colombo had also been present at the event and recognizing the fundamental right to freedom of assembly and expression, the Ministry pointed out that once again, a certain section of the diplomatic corps appears to be involved in a manner lacking in objectivity, in events organized for a particular region and community.
The Ministry said this action of the some diplomatic missions targeting one particular community in the country is leading to the emergence of a pattern of potentially volatile situations and giving rise to the perpetuation of mistrust amongst communities at a sensitive juncture in the country's history.
Soon after the incident the U.S. Embassy in Colombo issued a statement condemning the disruption of the meeting and urged the government to enforce the rule of law and permit all citizens to exercise their most basic human rights, including freedom of speech and freedom of assembly.
The embassies of France, Germany UK & Switzerland also issued a joint statement Tuesday urging the Sri Lankan government to "ensure and respect freedom of assembly and expression," in the country and assure the security of the participants.
The Sri Lankan Ministry of External Affairs urged the diplomatic community to be more conscious of local sensitivities when attending events of an emotive nature.