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Amnesty knocked out of World Cup

The International Cricket Council (ICC) has pledged to stop a controversial move by the human rights group Amnesty International (AI) to carry out a cricket ball campaign at the ongoing world cup in the Caribbean orchestrating  a  human rights situation in Sri Lanka, officials said.

An assurance has been given by the ICC to both the Foreign Ministry and Sri Lanka Cricket following separate representations made to the organisers of the world cup. A Foreign Ministry spokesman said they had got an assurance from the ICC that all steps would be taken to prevent the AI from carrying out any campaign within the grounds targeting Sri Lanka or its players. "It is clear that AI is politicising the game by its campaign which is unethical and immoral. Such a campaign can affect the Sri Lanka team and could demoralise the players," the spokesperson said.

In addition to informing the ICC the Sri Lanka embassy in Washington has complained to the world cup host countries in the Caribbean.

The Sri Lankan government has taken steps to inform the diplomatic missions of all cricket playing countries to take necessary steps to stop AI's campaign.

Sri Lanka Cricket Vice President K. Mathivanan said they had also got an assurance from the ICC that AI would not be able to carry out any campaign within the grounds.

AI's controversial campaign against Sri Lanka involves the signing of a foam cricket ball with the slogan 'Play by the rules" and calls on the government and the LTTE to allow independent human rights monitors to check the situation here.

However AI spokeswoman Yolane Foster said by telephone from London that the government was portraying a different picture by accusing AI of targeting the Sri Lanka cricket team.

Meanwhile, AI's South Asian Group official Sarah Oliver is said to have written to the group's Sri Lanka coordinator stating that AI was asking the South Asia group whether it would contribute to the cricket ball campaign against Sri Lanka instead of launching a campaign on India this spring.

While urging the Sri Lanka coordinator to take part in the action, Ms. Oliver, writing from Cambridge, is reported to have pointed out that it should be easy and fun to do so and said the group's contribution could vary from a few simple digital photos of people signing or playing with the balls to a larger event recorded on video and attracting local publicity. She is also believed to have said she would come and speak or attend one or two events if it was so wished.

Meanwhile, a Sri Lankan umbrella organisation will hold a demonstration on Friday outside the London headquarters of the AI to protest against its anti-Sri Lanka campaign launched to coincide with the cricket World Cup tournament being played in the Caribbean.

The Campaign for Peace and Unity in Sri Lanka (CPUSL), an umbrella group that brings together several professional, ethnic, religious and social organisations intent on seeing that peace and unity prevail in Sri Lanka, is demanding an immediate end to what it calls AI's "smear campaign". The CPUSL said it believed that the AI had launched this campaign in connivance with front organisations of the LTTE.

While there is no evidence of such concerted action, reports from the Caribbean indicate that the AI campaign named "Play by the rules" is being used by LTTE and anti-Sri Lankan lobbies to carry a message of human rights violations in Sri Lanka to the venues of the World Cup games.

The Sri Lanka High Commission in London had also earlier alerted Amnesty International to the fact that its campaign was being exploited by some LTTE front organisations to pursue their own goal of vilifying the country.

The umbrella group has accused AI of not being concerned about the "LTTE's conscription of children or its killing of innocent civilians but has rushed to campaign aggressively on the need for international monitors to investigate alleged human rights violations in Sri Lanka."

"If Amnesty International believes in playing by the rules why has it remained silent on the tyranny and violence perpetrated by the Mugabe regime in Zimbabwe? Is its silence on the decline of democracy in Bangladesh linked to AI's management policy?" asks CPUSL.

Zimbabwe and Bangladesh, both cricket playing nations, are participants at the current World Cup. AI's secretary-general Irene Khan was born in what was East Pakistan and is now Bangladesh.

The Sri Lanka High Commission is said to have written to AI expressing its hope that the human rights watchdog is not trying to politicise sports and this is not an attempt to embarrass the Sri Lanka cricket team or put undue pressure on it when it is vying for the coveted trophy.

Courtesy: SouthAsian

Related Article : Gutter Tactics of Amnesty International (AI) Condemned - SPUR


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