INTERNATIONAL

"West bullying Sri Lanka"

B. Muralidhar Reddy

COLOMBO: Hours after Sri Lankan Defence Secretary Gothabaya Rajapaksa accused western countries of "bullying" the nation, a senior Minister in the Mahinda Rajapaksa Government said the "regret" expressed by Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayeke over the eviction of 376 "jobless Tamils" here as "unwarranted."

At a news conference at the Ministry of Information in his "personal capacity", Chief Government Whip and Minister Jayaraj Fernandopulle said the authorities were required to undertake some measures (like eviction) in the interest of national security and it would not be proper to demoralise them by criticising them. The Defence Secretary, who is the President's brother, accused the west of double standards on human rights violations and alleged that the LTTE had "infiltrated" the U.N. agencies operating in the nation.

Discrimination

"This is discrimination and bullying by the international community. Without understanding the problem, they are trying to bully us, and we won't be isolated. We have all the SAARC countries, the Asian countries," he said. "Britain or Western countries, E.U. countries, they can do whatever. We don't depend on them."

He said the eviction of "jobless Tamils" was "a good example where the whole world was misled". "Everyone knows the LTTE is infiltrating ... We can't arrest 300 people and detain them. What is the best option?

"So you can tell them, if you don't have any legal business in Colombo ... we don't want to detain you, you go back to your homes. In fact this operation was much better. We could have put all of them in detention. We have to defend ourselves. You can't risk the country ...I'm talking about terrorists. Anything is fair... When the U.S. does operations, they say covert operations. When something is [done] in Sri Lanka, they call it abductions," he added. He complained that British Foreign Office Minister Kim Howells, who visited the island on Monday, was "completely misinformed". "Howells didn't talk a single word against the LTTE, a single word against terrorism," he said. "They are threatening isolation, they are stopping aid. They want us to suffer. When America is attacked ... every country [calls it] war against terrorism, but why are the terrorists being treated in a different way in Sri Lanka? Is Britain talking about isolating America?"

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