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UN High Commissioner urges 'restraint and meaningful dialogue' to address violence in Sri Lanka

UN High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet called on Sri Lanka to "prevent further violence, and urged restraint and meaningful dialogue" to address the worsening violence on the island. 

The human rights chief said she was "deeply troubled" by the violence that broke out yesterday between pro and anti- government supporters. 

“I condemn all violence and call on the authorities to independently, thoroughly and transparently investigate all attacks that have occurred. It is crucial to ensure that those found responsible, including those inciting or organising violence, are held to account," Bachelet said in a statement. 

The violence began yesterday after Rajapaksa supporters gathered at Temple Trees, the official residence of the Sri Lankan prime minister, to listen to Mahinda Rajapaksa deliver an address. After he spoke, pro-government crowds attacked protestors outside the residence, before marching to Galle Face and further assaulting protestors there. Eight people have died and over 200 have been injured as a result of the violence. 

“Authorities, including military personnel deployed in support of security forces, should exercise restraint in policing the situation and ensure that measures adopted in the context of the state of emergency comply with international human rights norms and are not used to stifle dissent or hinder peaceful protest,” she added. 

Earlier today, the Defence Ministry ordered Sri Lankan military to shoot anyone "looting public property or causing harm to others" as violence continues across the island. 

Bachelet also called on Sri Lankan authorities to "address the broader political and systemic root causes that have long perpetuated discrimination and undermined human rights" and hihglighted that her office will continue to monitor the situation in Sri Lanka.

Read the full statement here



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