Questions have arisen as to whether the US, which has a considerable and dubious history of exacerbating internal issues of other countries, is on a mission to create another hotspot in the world, cashing in on the present situation In Sri Lanka.
Interfering in internal affairs in a country is a violation of diplomatic protocol stipulated by the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations in 1961. According to Article 41 of the Vienna Convention diplomats should not interfere in the internal affairs of the receiving state.
A US Embassy delegation led by Ambassador Michelle Sison, in a surreptitious move, yesterday met with 20 Muslim activists who represented Muslim organizations and mosques in the Trincomalee district. During the 45 minute long discussion, the Ambassador had asked them about the issues faced by them as a result of the so called Sinhala-Muslim tension.
The Ambassador had asked them whether the Muslims were being harassed by the Sinhalese in Trincomalee where there is a large Sinhala population. She is said to have asked whether Muslim mosques had been demolished in the area by the Sinhalese. Referring to several newspaper and website articles, the Ambassador is said to have asked whether Jihadist groups were operating in the Trincomalee area. In addition, delegation had inquired regarding the welfare of the Batticaloa and Trincomalee Muslims, Trincomalee YMMA representative ‘Fariz Master’, a former teacher, told
The Nation.Muslim representatives, in response, had refuted claims about mosques being demolished and the presence of Jihadist groups in the area.
Following the meeting, the US embassy delegation had had another discussion with an NGO operating in Trincomalee about the situation, The Nation learns.
US Embassy spokesman Chris Elms confirmed that a delegation from the embassy led by Mrs. Sison did meet with ‘Muslim leaders’ in Trincomalee to discuss ‘issues faced by Muslims in the area’.
However, he said he could not comment on what was discussed at the meeting since he wasn’t part of the delegation.
When contacted by The Nation, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Rodney Perera said the Ministry was unaware of any such visit by a US Embassy delegation to Trincomalee. When inquired if such a visit by the US Embassy officials would violate their diplomatic protocol in Sri Lanka, he declined to comment. However, efforts to contact External Affairs Ministry Secretary Karunathilake Amunugama proved futile.
This move by the US Ambassador is a clear violation of diplomatic norms as the External Affairs Ministry has to be kept informed especially if a foreign mission is moving into sensitive areas with regard to the internal affairs of any country. In this case, the External Affairs ministry of Sri Lanka had been kept in the dark and is tantamount to a clear violation of protocol. Over to you Madam Ambassador! ( The Nation)