MR shuns C’wealth event in UK due to ‘security concerns’


by Shamindra Ferdinando

An LTTE protest during President Rajapaksa’s last visit to the UK.

Taking into consideration the failure on the part of the British government to restraining the UK based LTTE groups during his previous visits, President Mahinda Rajapaksa has decided against attending the World War I Commemorative Service for the Commonwealth at Glasgow Cathedral on August 4.

External Affairs Minister Prof. G. L. Peiris, has, in a letter addressed to Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport as well as Minister of Equalities stressed that the decision to skip the Commonwealth event had been taken due to the British government’s failure on previous occasions to rein in LTTE groups, though the LTTE remains proscribed in the UK. Alleging that the British law enforcement authorities turned a blind eye to violent protests against the Sri Lankan delegation including President Rajapaksa himself, Prof. Peiris has recalled how bottles and cans were thrown at the car carrying President Rajapaksa.

Responding to a query by The Island, a spokesperson for the British High Commission said: "This is a matter to pursue with the Sri Lankan government, but, yes, we were informed."

Referring to President Rajapaksa’s visit to London in June 2012 for the Diamond Jubilee Celebrations of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Prof. Peiris has pointed that the diaspora groups disrupted the visiting Sri Lanka’s itinerary though the main event wasn’t targeted.

The Cameron government has been informed that the Sri Lankan government felt that it is unsafe for President Rajapaksa to participate at the early August event due to LTTE groups taking advantage of the situation to launch protests..

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