Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka urges Amnesty to halt campaign
Apr 5, 2007 - 11:01:15 PM

Colombo, April 5 - The Sri Lanka government Thursday urged the London-based human rights watchdog Amnesty International to halt a campaign coinciding with the cricket World Cup calling on Sri Lanka to stop human rights abuses, the foreign ministry said.

Amnesty, in a campaign entitled 'play by the rules', hopes to collect signatures on foam cricket balls calling on Sri Lanka to invite independent human rights monitors into the country immediately.

The Sri Lankan team has progressed to the last eight teams in the tournament in the Caribbean.

The ministry said a Sri Lankan delegation met Amnesty International - representatives in London and pointed out that the campaign 'could distract the national team and could be construed as a deliberate attempt to adversely affect their performance and concentration on the game'.

AI said their campaign was aimed at bringing pressure on the Sri Lankan government, Tamil rebels and other armed groups, calling on them to protect human rights.

Local organisations and politicians have condemned the AI action saying that it was deliberately aimed at disturbing the players who are representing three of the country's main communities including minority Tamils.

The country's ethnic conflict since 1983 has seen over 74,000 people killed, with fighting mainly in the north and eastern parts of the country where Tamil rebels seek an independent homeland.

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