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Samantha Power to address event celebrating Mangala Samaraweera

Senior US policy figure Samantha power will be speaking at an event in Colombo later this month marking “30 years in parliamentary politics” for Sri Lanka’s current media minister Mangala Samaraweera.

Samaraweera, who was Sri Lanka’s former foreign minister when the government co-sponsored a UN resolution mandating an accountability mechanism with international involvement, has a long history in southern politics.

He started as the Sri Lanka Freedom Party's chief organiser for Matara in 1983 and Assistant Secretary of the SLFP Coordinating Secretary of the Mother’s Front.

As a leading member of the SLFP, Samaraweera also participated in several Sinhala nationalist rallies, including a 2003 demonstration alongside Mahinda Rajapaksa that marched against the "betrayal of Sinhala nation” by signing a ceasefire with the LTTE.

He was an aide of then Sri Lankan president Chandrika Kumaratunga, when he lashed out at Norwegian peace brokers claiming they had "not shown any sensitivity to the feelings of Sri Lankans”.

"Of course we can't expect anything better from a nation of salmon-eaters who turned into international busybodies,” he added.

He then rose to the post of Mahinda Rajapaksa’s foreign secretary as the Sri Lankan military began a massive military offensive that killed tens of thousands of Tamils.

Samaraweera also spoke out against peace monitors from the Sri Lankan Monitoring Mission (SLMM) who stated that Sri Lankan security forces were responsible for the murder of 17 ACF aid workers in Muttur. 

"I am not calling him [SLMM] a liar, but I am calling it a very, very irresponsible statement," he said in an interview with the BBC.

As Sri Lanka plunged into a constitutional crisis last year, Power called for “ramped up international pressure” and also urged the US to consider suspending aid and imposing targeted sanctions in response.