News

    Sri Lanka Scolds Foreign Envoys Over Human Rights Statements

    Sri Lanka has been calling in foreign diplomats to express what the Foreign Ministry calls its "deep displeasure" over remarks by the diplomats' countries about the Sri Lankan human rights situation. VOA correspondent Steve Herman reports from our South Asia bureau in New Delhi.

    Both the Sri Lankan government and ethnic Tamil rebels have been accused of serious human rights violations since the resumption of their decades-long civil war.

    But Sri Lanka is particularly unhappy at remarks, critical of the government, made earlier this week by a number of countries before the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva.

    U.N. Human Rights Commissioner Louise Arbor accused Sri Lanka's domestic institutions of not being able to safeguard human rights.

    On Thursday and Friday, the Foreign Ministry summoned top diplomats of the countries that spoke in Geneva, to express Colombo's displeasure.

    In a statement issued Friday, the Foreign Ministry said the accusations made in Geneva do not reflect the "steady decline of the level of violations" recorded by "independent and highly reliable sources."

    Foreign Secretary Palitha Kohona tells VOA News he summoned the diplomats to inform them of Colombo's views on human rights.

    "They have to be sensitized to what we feel about the whole situation, because our whole objective is to work with the international community, not to confront the international community. Our goal is to achieve the best human rights standards in this country," said Kohona.

    Top-ranking diplomats of the United States, the European Union, France, South Korea and Sweden were summoned on Thursday. A similar summons went to envoys from Canada and the Netherlands on Friday. Sri Lanka says it will express its displeasure to New Zealand through that nation's embassy in New Delhi.

    The Foreign Ministry statement says "deep displeasure" was expressed to Britain's high commissioner in Sri Lanka, for British comments in Geneva that Colombo interpreted as sympathetic to the Tamil rebels' demand for an independent ethnic homeland.

    The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, as the rebels are formally known, have waged a violent separatist campaign since the mid-1970s, including assassinations of top government officials in Sri Lanka and India.

    Foreign Secretary Kohona says the meetings with the envoys have been positive.

    "They were all business-like meetings," said Kohona. "The idea was not to create a confrontation but to explain the factual situation on the ground. And some of the ambassadors did indicate that their representatives in Geneva had prepared their statements without actually consulting the ambassadors in Colombo."

    The off-and-on again civil war has left dead tens of thousands of soldiers, rebels and civilians. Several hundred thousand more people have been displaced from their homes.


    Steve Herman

    Steve Herman is VOA's Senior Diplomatic Correspondent, based at the State Department.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora