Sri Lanka: UN millions for diaspora festival ‘completely untrue’ - UNHRC

UN has not offered any funds to the Sri Lankan government to conduct a diaspora festival, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said.

The high commissioner’s office on Monday (22) rejected an accusation by Sri Lanka's ruling coalition partner Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) that the the Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry  receiving funds from the Human Rights commission (UNHRC) as ‘completely untrue’. JHU Spokesman Nishantha Sri Warnasinghe told journalists in Colombo on Friday (19) that the country’s foreign minister has been assured a sum of 3.2 million UD Dollars by the UNHCR to hold a diaspora festival. He requested Minister Mangala Samaraweera to reveal ‘conditions’ placed to receive the alleged finances.

“Neither the High Commissioner for Human Rights, nor the Human Rights Council has provided any money for any such event,” OHCHR spokesperson Rupert Colville told JDS.

Following a meeting in London with the Global Tamil Forum, Tamil National Alliance and former Norwegian mediator Erik Solheim alongside representatives from South African, Norwegian and Swiss governments in early June, Sri Lanka’s foreign minister informed parliament of plans to organize a diaspora festival later this year. Minister Samaraweera expressed hope that it could ‘even take the form of a regular annual event’.

Weakening Tamil Tigers

Claiming that the festival would be a threat to national security and national unity, JHU Spokesman Warnasinghe who described the development as a ‘very serious situation' accused the foreign ministry of organising an event ‘in the name of reconciliation to support Eelamists’.

Responding to allegations, Deputy Foreign Minister Ajith P Perera told journalists in Colombo that Tamil Tigers living abroad and those who continue to maintain links with the LTTE will not be attending the proposed year end diaspora festival. He said that the event will 'further weaken remaining Tamil Tiger forces instead of strengthening them.'

Meanwhile, the Transnational government of Tamil Eelam (TGTE) has alleged that the London talks ‘are only aimed at helping the Sirisena coalition domestically in the upcoming elections within Sri Lanka’. In a statement, it has further said that the Global Tamil Forum has no mandate to speak on behalf of the rest of Tamils in the Diaspora.