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Practise what you Preach; Lanka Tells UK, France to Treat Tiger Supporters like Al-Qeada Activists

SRI LANKA has strongly objected to the failure by Britain and France to crackdown on demonstrations staged in those countries by pro-LTTE supporters who even raised the LTTE flag, and asked if they would do the same if such protests were staged by pro Al Qaeda groups.

Foreign Secretary Palitha Kohona told journalists yesterday that the government had made these observations when Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama’s delegation met the Foreign Ministers of Britain and France in Colombo on Wednesday.

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband who responded to government concerns said the demonstrations being held in London were a democratic right of the people but assured that attacks on any high commission offices if carried out during the protests would be investigated.

He said some 200 protestors had been arrested by the British police last week.

Dr. Kohona who was also present at the meeting said it was the responsibility of the respective governments to act because the LTTE was banned in their countries and questioned if the West would tolerate similar protests if the people carried Al Qaeda flags and roamed the streets.

“The Foreign Ministers told us it is the democratic right of the people to demonstrate, even though the LTTE is a banned organization in those countries. We do not know how much of a democratic right this is but questioned if they will remain silent if these were pro Al Qaeda demonstrations,” Dr. Kohona said.

He said Sri Lanka would continue to raise this issue with the two countries if appropriate measures were not taken to stop the demonstrations which went as far as even carrying the banned LTTE flag.

A foreign journalist present at yesterday’s media briefing said the demonstrations in western countries were to protest the genocide in Sri Lanka, Dr. Kohona said such allegations were baseless and questioned whether civilians would be waiting to be rescued by the military if there indeed was a genocide.

“Tamils are living comfortably living in Colombo and other parts of the island. If there was a genocide we won’t see more than 112,000 civilians break away from the LTTE and come running towards the security forces,” Dr. Kohona said.

Meanwhile responding Ministers Kouchner and Miliband requesting for humanitarian access into the No-Fire Zone, Dr. Kohona said it would not be immediately possible when  considering the ground situation but assured that Sri Lanka did not need any intermediaries to rescue the civilians held hostage by the LTTE.

“Last week our security forces without the help of any outsiders, freed thousands of civilians from the clutches of the LTTE. Now the numbers are far less so it is obvious that our defence networks will free the remaining civilians in the same manner they saved the civilians last week,” Dr. Kohona said.

He said this was also conveyed to the visiting Foreign Ministers who commended the government’s efforts at rescuing the civilians from the Tigers.

Meanwhile Human Rights and Disaster Management Minister Mahinda Samarasingha said that during Minister Miliband’s visit Britain pledged 7.5 million sterling pounds for the rehabilitation and welfare of civilians and that France too had set up an emergency hospital in Chettikulum which had already treated 60 patients. (courtesy : Daily Mirror)