The government of Sri Lanka has termed U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes as a “terrorist” for his last week’s comment that about the safety of humanitarian workers Sri Lanka is one of the worst in the world.
During his visit to Sri Lanka last week, Sir Holmes in an interview told Reuters last Thursday: "There is a concern ... about the safety of humanitarian workers themselves and the record here is one of the worst in the world from that point of view."
He said almost 30 aid workers had been killed in Sri Lanka over the past 18 months.
Sir Holmes said, "We've seen almost 30 humanitarian workers killed over the last 18 months or so”. He called on the government to probe civil war abuses and consider an international rights monitoring mission.
The government has sharply reacted to this remark of Holmes and accused him of tarnishing the image of the country by making such statement.
The government asked Sir Holmes to withdraw his statement. The UN however stood by the Under-Secretary-General, saying there was no evidence to contradict his statements.
At a press conference on Wednesday Chief Government Whip Jeyaraj Fernandopulle, who is also the island's highways minister, said he believed Holmes had taken bribe from the Tamil Tigers and made this comment deliberately to tarnish Sri Lanka's reputation.
"I would say Holmes is completely a terrorist. He is a terrorist who supports terrorism. We consider people who support terrorists also terrorists.
We are sure that he was bribed by the Tamil Tigers," Fernandopulle said at the press conference.
Earlier, Sri Lanka’s Prime Minster rejected the UN Under-Secretary-General’s statements.
"The government of Sri Lanka outright rejects John Holmes' assertion that Sri Lanka is not safe for humanitarian workers," Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake said in a statement to parliament.
Meanwhile on Tuesday Rajiva Wijesinha, head of the government's peace secretariat wrote to Sri Lanka’s Human Rights Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe, lambasting ACF over the massacre of its aid workers last August and calling for an independent probe.
But international ceasefire monitors held Sri Lankan security forces responsible for the massacre of the 17 aid workers in the eastern town of Muttur. The government has rejected the accusation and attacked the monitors.
All but one of the murdered aid workers, a Muslim, were Tamils. They found shot dead execution style in their office compound.
"There is no doubt that such negligence, if addressed in a European court of law, would have resulted in the award of massive damages to the grieved families, rather than the puny amounts that I gather from NGO sources have been awarded," Wijesinha wrote.
Responding to the accusation, ACF called for an independent international probe.
"If they want an inquiry, ACF agrees to cooperate, as long as it is an international and independent inquiry," Loan Tran-Thanh, head of ACF's Sri Lanka mission, told Reuters.