Colombo's claims of free access a lie, says media, ICRC

[TamilNet, Sunday, 06 December 2009, 03:30 GMT]
Reporters and aid workers said they are still being barred from visiting Government internment camps housing thousands of Tamil refugees, days after Sri Lanka's Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama proclaimed on British television that the areas were "totally open."

Numerous media requests to visit camps in Vavuniyaa district and to witness the announced release of thousands of civilians had been rejected, reported Australia’s Daily Telegraph.

“The International Committee of the Red Cross said they had also been denied access to the camps and there had been no relaxation of the restrictions despite Bogollagama's announcement," the paper said.

The accusation comes days after Bogollagama told the BBC on his visit to London “that they [the media] can go tomorrow, you take my word. Absolutely there is no restriction that we impose on anyone, any journalist."

Bogollagama's statement has been publicly contradicted by the Sri Lanka Government, with Human Rights Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe confirming that "restrictions on journalists to visit displaced people in camps have not been relaxed yet," whilst refusing to provide a concrete date as to when this would happen.

 

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