Rohan Perera, Sri Lanka's permanent representative to the United Nations, on Sunday, criticised two UN representatives for expressing alarm over the "growing acts of violence on the basis of religion," particularly in the North Western Province of the country.
In a joint statement issued on May 13, Adama Dieng, UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, and Karen Smith, UN Special Adviser on the Responsibility to Protect, cited growing instances of religion-based violence and called for an end to "hateful attacks" directed towards the country's Muslim minority.
Responding to the statement, Perera said that while noting their concerns, "we were taken aback by your oversimplified narrative of events that are nuanced and complex in nature", Colombo Page reported.
He said their prejudiced statement only serves to sensationalise issues at a time when the Sri Lankan government is taking stringent measures to maintain law and order and quell unrest in the interest of safety of all in the wake of Easter terror attacks on April 21 that targeted several high-end hotels and churches, killing more than 250 people across the country.
"Ill-timed statements from responsible authorities will only serve to strengthen the hands of parties with vested interests and extremist elements determined to veer Sri Lanka from the path of peace and development. The need of the hour is for measured advice and support of experts of your good offices to help clarify matters in order for Sri Lanka and all her people to face new challenges arising from violent extremism," the envoy was quoted as saying.
"It is quite insensitive and ill-conceived that you did not consider it important to share your concerns with the Sri Lankan government first, before going public with your statement. This would have also been in keeping with the key objectives of your respective mandates, i.e. to provide early warning and advocacy," Perera added.
In the statement, the UN advisers stated that "it is in the interest of all ethnic and religious groups in Sri Lanka, as well as the Government, the opposition, civil society and the security sector, to work collaboratively in taking appropriate action and immediately stop these hateful attacks."
"The country is trying to move forward from a traumatic period of inter-ethnic armed conflict, but these attacks are pushing Sri Lanka backwards. If not adequately dealt with, the recent violence has the potential to escalate even further," they warned.
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