Mar 06, Colombo: The United States today expressed concern over action taken by the Sri Lankan authorities to prevent hundreds of family members of disappeared and missing from Vavuniya reaching Colombo to participate in a protest.
The US embassy in Colombo issuing a statement said the right to freely express opinions is universal and protected under Sri Lankan and international law and called upon Sri Lankan authorities to allow free movement of these citizens.
The police have stopped the buses packed with the family members who were on their way to Colombo from the northern town of Vavuniya to take part in a protest organized at the Vihara Maha Devi Park.
A group named "The platform of freedom" has organized the protest to pressure the government to find family members who have gone missing during the war.
Leader of National Democratic Front Mano Ganeshan has told AFP the protest was called off because police and Army threatened the bus drivers.
"Armed police and army intimidated bus drivers and threatened them with dire consequences if they moved," Ganeshan has told AFP.
Police however said they received information that the buses were going to be stoned on the route and advised the bus drivers against leaving to prevent clashes and to maintain peace and order.
Military spokesman Brigadier Ruwan Wanigasooriya denying the intimidation has said that the police stopped the organized movement of buses in view of the complaints of stoning of buses to avoid clashes had the buses proceeded.
The U.S. Embassy said in its statement that U.S. is constructively working with international partners to support the basic freedoms through the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) resolution in Geneva.
"We continue to urge the Government of Sri Lanka to follow through on its own commitments to its people by implementing recommendations made in their Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) Report. The LLRC recommends thorough investigations into disappearances as well an establishment of a mechanism to address cases of the missing and detained," it said.
Since last year's UNHRC resolution the United States has grown increasingly concerned by the lack of progress on these issues, as well as backsliding on other important areas of fundamental democratic rights, the statement further noted.
"All Sri Lankans should enjoy the same rights and live in dignity, sharing a democratic, secure, and prosperous future," it said.