UN says Lankan activists harassed, Colombo denies
Geneva: The Sri Lankan government on Saturday rejected a charge levelled by the United Nations, accusing Colombo of intimidating pro-Tamil activists at the global body’s Human Rights Council in Geneva.
On Friday, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay issued a warning against threatening Sri Lankan activists.
According to Pillay, the run-up to the UNHRC vote in Geneva was marked by "an unprecedented and totally unacceptable level of threats, harassment and intimidation directed at Sri Lankan activists who had travelled to Geneva to engage in the debate, including by members of the 71-member official Sri Lankan government delegation”.
Spokesperson of the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights, Rupert Colville, said: "They (Activists) were abused in many way verbally, there were text messages, telephone calls, accosted in corridors...there were even incidents outside the UN premises as well as inside wry intimidating filming and photography taking place...people putting cameras right in people faces...against the rules...I mean that's not supposed to be happening on these events".
In the meantime, Pillay said: Sri Lankan media outlets have been running a "continuous campaign of vilification, including naming and in many cases picturing activists, describing them as an 'NGO gang' and repeatedly accusing them of treason, mercenary activities and association with terrorism. Some of these reports have contained barely veiled incitement and threats of retaliation".
"There must be no reprisals against Sri Lankan human rights defenders in the aftermath of yesterday's adoption by the human rights council of a resolution on Sri Lanka," she added.