UN High Commissioner hits back in Sri Lankan disinformation campaign – and rightly so

September 22, 2013

Mahinda Rajapaksa, president...

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, in a statement which some claim unusual for a top UN official to direct at a UN-member country, took aim at Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, and other government officials, just  after her visit last month to Sri Lanka. During the visit at least three government ministers “joined in an extraordinary array of distortion and abuse” which is continuing now, Pillay’s spokesman, Rupert Colville, told reporters in Geneva: “We consider it deeply regrettable that government officials and other commentators continue what appears to be a coordinated campaign of disinformation in an attempt to discredit the high commissioner or to distract from the core messages of her visit.” Pillay’s office sent a formal complaint to the government demanding that it immediately retract and publicly correct “misinformation”.

In the statement Pillay complained that the defence secretary made widely reported but false claims that she had asked President Rajapaksa during their private meeting to remove a statue of Sri Lanka’s first prime minister from Colombo’s Independence Square. “Firstly, we categorically deny that the high commissioner ever uttered a single word about the statue of Prime Minister D.S. Senanayake at any point during her visit to Sri Lanka, let alone asked the president to remove it. This claim is without a shred of truth,” Colville said. “Secondly, there has been a further distortion concerning comments the high commissioner made to the president concerning a flag in Independence Square.” Pillay asked the president why the flag of one religious community was flying next to the national flag in such a symbolic location, Colville said.

UN rights Chief hits out at senior officials and Gota for waging misinformation campaign.


The full statement is made available on the OCHR website

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