Sri Lanka’s president declined an invitation by Britain to take part in a Commonwealth event to commemorate the beginning of the World War I in Glasgow on August 4, due to “deplorable security lapses” around Tamil protests and Britain’s failure to rein in “LTTE groups”, referring to British Tamil diaspora organisations.
In a letter to Britain’s culture secretary Sajid Javid, External Affairs Minister GL Peiris criticised the British government for turning a blind eye to “violent protests” against Sri Lankan officials, including President Mahinda Rajapaksa, during previous visits, said The Island.
Peiris highlighted past visits by the president, where his schedule was disrupted due to Tamil protests, and that the Sri Lankan government felt that it was “unsafe” for Rajapaksa to take part in the event.
The minister also highlighted that Sri Lanka, as Chair-in-Office of the Commonwealth reiterates the "upholding of shared values of the organisation, for the promotion of peace and stability", according to the Daily Mirror.
Rajapaksa already missed Wednesday’s opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, an event that is usually attended by the Chair-in-Office.
However, the president's spokesperson, Mohan Samaranayake, denied that his non-attendance was due to protests, which took place in Glasgow on the same day.
Canada earlier this year withdrew its funding of the Commonwealth, over Rajapaksa's position as chair of the Commonwealth following Sri Lanka's hosting of the Commonwealth Heads of Government summit last November.
The decision to host the summit in Colombo, despite the mass killing of tens of thousands of Tamils by state security forces as well as on-going violations of human rights, received widespread international criticism.
Rajapaksa's previous visits to the UK, have been overshadowed by mass protests by British Tamils.
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