Sri Lanka trip angers SA group

2012-09-06 00:00

THE South African-based Solidarity Group for Peace and Justice in Sri Lanka (SGJP) has condemned a trip to Sri Lanka by a group of 30 businesspeople, including Deputy Minister for Economic Development Hlengiwe Mkhize.

The SGJP has been campaigning against the Sri Lankan government’s treatment of the Tamil-speaking population in the country. It pointed to a United Nations probe that found evidence of atrocities and human rights violations against the Tamils.

Secretary Pregasen Padayachee said his organisation was disappointed by the delegation’s visit, given the intransigence of the Sri Lakan government in protecting the rights of its own citizens.

“The delegation, led by a government deputy minister, has chosen economic interests over the promotion of a just and equitable solution to the plight of the Tamil-speaking population of Sri Lanka,” Padayachee said.

He added that according to a Human Rights Watch report, the police and military had wide powers and there was a perpetual state of emergency. There was a limit on free expression and political prisoners were denied access to legal recourse. Over a hundred thousand people remained displaced after nearly two years of forced removals.

The South African group left yesterday and is expected back on Saturday.

Spokesperson for the Department of International Relations Clayson Monyela said the delegation was not on an official government visit.

Mkhize was not available, but her spokesperson, Phumzile Kotane, said the trip by the delegation gave South Africa an opportunity to be briefed on progress on implementing the “Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) Report”.

“SA continues to encourage the government of Sri Lanka to implement the recommendations of the LLRC Report in the same spirit as SA implemented the TRC processes,” she said.

The SGPJ is made up of the South African Tamil Federation, the Tamil Co-ordinating Committee, the World Saiva Council and other concerned groupings.

It was launched in 2007 to campaign for peace and justice in Sri Lanka.

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