No war memorial ban for Sri Lanka

cenotaph    The Coalition Government has refused to bow to demands from human rights groups to bar Sri Lanka from an event in Glasgow to commemorate the First World War.

Campaigners including Amnesty Scotland had said the country should not be invited because of its appalling human rights record.

The Government will mark the centenary of the war after next year’s Commonwealth Games with a special service in Glasgow Cathedral followed by a wreath-laying ceremony at the Cenotaph.

The heads of state of Commonwealth countries are to be invited.

Asked if Sri Lanka’s President Mahinda Rajapaksa would be included, a spokesman for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport said the UK “enjoys normal diplomatic relations with Sri Lanka”.

He added: “The final list of invites to the event in Glasgow will be decided nearer the time.”

Mark Bevan, programme director at Amnesty Scotland, said: “We would urge the UK Government to prevent Sri Lanka using any Commonwealth event to gloss over the very serious human rights abuses in the country.”

The Glasgow ceremony is among a programme of cultural events, candlelit vigils and other services that will be held to commemorate the First World War.

Culture Secretary Maria Miller, unveiling the programme in London, said: “Next year marks the centenary of events which did more than any other to shape the world in which we live.

“Given the scale of the conflict, it will not be difficult for every family in every village and every town up and down our country and indeed across the Commonwealth to be able to find their own story to tell.” (The Herald- Scotland)

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