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Pillay slams offensive remarks

2013 Sep 02

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay today slammed what she termed was “deeply offensive” comments made about her just before and during her visit Sri Lanka.

Addressing the media at the end of her weeklong visit to Sri Lanka today, Pillay said that some media, ministers, bloggers and various propagandists in Sri Lanka have, for several years now, on the basis of her Indian Tamil heritage, described her as a tool of the LTTE.

“They have claimed I was in their pay, the Tamil Tigress in the UN. This is not only wildly incorrect, it is deeply offensive. This type of abuse has reached an extraordinary crescendo during this past week, with at least three Government Ministers joining in,” she said.

She however noted that the President had apologized over the comments made by some of the Ministers. Pillay also rejected the allegations that the UN was biased.

Meanwhile she also said that  she had asked the Government for more information about the new Commission of Inquiry on Disappearances, and stressed the need for it to be more effective than the five previous commissions of this kind.

“I was disappointed to learn that it will only cover disappearances in the Northern and Eastern Provinces, which means that the many white van disappearances reported in Colombo and other parts of the country in recent years will not fall within its scope,” she said.

She said she had also received reports that people in villages and settlements in the Mullaitivu area were visited by police or military officers both before and after she arrived in Trincomalee, several people she met were subsequently questioned about the content of her conversation with them.

“This type of surveillance and harassment appears to be getting worse in Sri Lanka, which is a country where critical voices are quite often attacked or even permanently silenced. Utterly unacceptable at any time, it is particularly extraordinary for such treatment to be meted out during a visit by a UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. I wish to stress that the United Nations takes the issue of reprisals against people because they have talked to UN officials as an extremely serious matter, and I will be reporting those that take place in connection with this visit to the Human Rights Council,” she said. (Colombo Gazette)

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