Sri Lanka summons US envoy over rights report
15 March 2008.
COLOMBO (AFP) — Sri Lanka summoned US ambassador Robert Blake to denounce Washington's criticism of Colombo's human rights record in an escalating ethnic conflict wracking the island.
Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama called Blake to the foreign ministry office to "strongly protest" the State Department's human rights report, a government statement said.
The report is a "litany of unsubstantiated allegations, innuendo and vituperative exaggerations ... and has thrown a lifeline" to the rebel Tamil Tigers, the statement said.
The annual US report issued earlier this week said more than 1,000 civilians had been killed in Sri Lanka last year as the government stepped up attacks against the Tigers, who have been fighting for an independent homeland for the Tamil minority since 1972.
The United States also blamed the government for making slow progress in investigating alleged serious human rights abuses.
The US embassy in a statement said it stood by the report and did not make further comment.
Last December, Sri Lanka summoned a number of Colombo-based Western and Asian diplomats and faulted them for criticising the country's human rights record.
The government has in the past accused international diplomats who raised rights concerns of being "terrorists" and supporters of the rebels.
Sri Lanka has also resisted calls for UN monitoring of the human rights situation.
Earlier this month, a team of top foreign judicial and forensic experts said it was quitting Sri Lanka because Colombo had failed to seriously probe a string of high-profile cases, including the massacre of aid workers.
Published: Sat Mar 15 07:53:11 EDT 2008