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Britain’s new king and his autocratic friends

Amidst growing concerns over the worsening human rights situation in Sri Lanka, Britain’s new head of state, King Charles III, met with Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe, where the two were pictured in conversation.

The meeting follows growing criticism of the Britain’s new hereditary monarch who has held 95 meetings with 8 repressive monarchies in the Middle East since the ‘Arab Spring’ protests of 2011 and for his role in promoting 14.5-billion worth of UK arms exports to these regimes.

Writing in Declassified, Phil Miller and Mark Curtis highlight that King Charles has held meetings with Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, Oman and the United Arab Emirates.

“Many of these visits took place just before or during specific acts of repression by these regimes – especially of opposition activists, the media or religious minorities – acts which have been regularly condemned by human rights groups,” they write.

Sri Lanka’s leader has come under increasing international condemnation for his crackdown on peaceful demonstrators and the use of the draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act to silence government critics.

The latest report by the former UN High Commissioner for human rights warns of a culture of impunity in Sri Lanka and deepening militarisation.

Responding to the visit of Sri Lanka’s president to the UK, numerous British Tamils expressed their concerns. Sockalingam Yogalingam, a spokesperson for the Transitional Government of Tamil Eelam told the Tamil Guardian:

“In 2018, we protested against Wickremesinghe’s visit because he only served to whitewash Sri Lanka’s atrocities. Today nothing has changed. He should not be given the privilege of visiting queen during this period of national mourning”.

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