Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa said he was not concerned about allegations of war crimes against him, in a rather sudden, chance encounter with the Channel 4 crew that is here to cover the Commonwealth summit.
It was around 11 a.m., when Mr. Rajapaksa was about to leave Hotel Cinnamon Grand after declaring the Commonwealth Business Forum open on Tuesday.
The entrance of the hotel — where many high-profile delegates have been put up — was abuzz with delegates and some media persons waiting, when the President, escorted by his security personnel, was seen walking towards his car. Just as he proceeded towards his vehicle, Jonathan Miller, Foreign Affairs Correspondent of Channel 4, intercepted, introduced himself and asked loudly if he could have a minute with the President.
Mr. Rajapaksa instantly turned in the direction from which the voice came, spotted the journalist and shook hands with him. Mr. Miller then asked: “Are you concerned about the allegations of war crimes against you?” to which the President said: “I am not concerned about anything.”
The journalist followed up the question with a request for a meeting with the President. “Why not for tea?” said Mr. Rajapaksa, just as he got into his car. The Channel 4 journalists said it was not clear when the meeting would transpire.
Minutes after this spontaneous encounter, Mr. Rajapaksa’s comment began doing the rounds on twitter.
Callum Macrae, director of the documentary No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka, is also here as part of the crew, but was not present at the Cinnamon Grand on Tuesday morning.
The documentary points to human rights violations and war crimes committed allegedly by the Sri Lankan Army. The Army had termed the documentary “fabricated.”
When the Channel 4 crew landed in Colombo on Monday, a group of protesters holding placards assembled at the airport.
They objected to the crew’s presence, saying it had discredited Sri Lanka and failed to highlight atrocities committed by the LTTE.