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Sri Lanka claims Lord Ahmad praised Rajapaksa over ‘progress on human rights’

Sri Lanka’s official Presidential Media Division claimed the visiting British minister praised president Gotabaya Rajapaksa over his regime’s supposed “progress” on human rights issues, after the pair met in Colombo earlier today.

“Sri Lanka’s progress over human rights highly commendable,” read the headline of the official report, which lead with a photograph of the two greeting each other.

It goes on to claim that the UK’s State Minister for South Asia Lord Tariq Ahmad, stated “Sri Lanka’s programme to empower human rights is making great strides”.

The claim comes as Ahmad continues his tour of the island, having visited the Tamil North-East yesterday. In Jaffna and Trincomalee he stressed the importance of human rights and accountability, as he met with Tamil rights activists.

Organisers of last year’s Pottuvil to Polikandy rally old Ahmad that there has not been “any tangible progress towards accountability or justice”.

“This has emboldened the Sri Lankan state and security forces to continue their human rights abuses against the Tamils with impunity,” a letter they handed to the minister continued.

Meanwhile Tamil families of the disappeared criticised the visiting minister for his silence on the “burning issues of enforced disappearances”.

“Imagine if it was your child who disappeared and just asking what happened meant you were insulted, abused, threatened and told it was your fault you didn’t have more information about who took them,” they said. “We have been treated with utter disrespect for the last thirteen years and your emphasis on engagement and the economy.”

Though Rajapaksa’s office claims Ahmad praised them on progress, the minister tweeted that he “emphasised the need for GoSL to make progress on human rights, reconciliation, and justice and accountability”.

I met President @GotabayaR to discuss global challenges including climate change and economic recovery from #Covid19. I emphasised the need for GoSL to make progress on human rights, reconciliation, and justice and accountability, in line with the UN HRC process and the SDGs. pic.twitter.com/QZ23K3Ij00

— Lord (Tariq)Ahmad of Wimbledon (@tariqahmadbt) January 20, 2022

See more on Ahmad’s visit in our feature: Trade, climate and human rights – Britain’s South Asia Minister tours Tamil homeland

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