U.S. Embassy Concerned by Meeting Disruption, Calls for Sri Lanka Government to Enforce Rule of Law

Full Text of Press Release

USEMBSL072914

On August 4 a meeting that included U.S. Embassy officials was interrupted by angry protesters, including a group of monks. The mob forced its way into the meeting on the grounds of a Colombo Catholic church, where families of disappeared persons from the civil conflict were sharing their stories with civil society groups and members of the diplomatic community.

The U.S. Embassy is concerned that the initial reaction of the local police to this disruption appeared to be in support of the mob’s efforts to shut down the meeting, though after discussions with diplomatic officials the police did effectively calm the situation.

The mob shouted hateful slogans, made unfounded accusations, and behaved threateningly towards the families of the disappeared. These protesters were not exercising their right to peaceful protest, but rather were disrupting a peaceful gathering of conflict survivors, including children. The strong impression was that the protesters were seeking to intimidate and silence those in attendance.

The United States strongly urges the Government of Sri Lanka to enforce the rule of law and permit all citizens to exercise their most basic human rights, including freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. We also call on the Government of Sri Lanka take all possible steps to ensure the safety of families who had traveled from the North to attend this meeting, both in Colombo and upon their return home. (via US Embassy-Sri Lanka)