Aug 11, Colombo: The Sri Lankan government today strongly criticized the United States for issuing a security warning against the country to its citizens traveling to and reside in the island and urged the US to seek corrective measures to curtail the widening gap in the bilateral relationship.
The Ministry of External Affairs in a statement today said it takes serious note of the Security Message for US Citizens issued by the United States Department of State Bureau of Diplomatic Security on 8th August 2014, which "regrettably creates a false and alarmist view of the conditions prevalent in Sri Lanka."
The security warning was issued by the U.S. following a peaceful demonstration by the Marxist party of Sri Lanka Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) in front of the U.S. Embassy in Colombo on August 8th against the Israeli attacks on Gaza, with the support of the US.
"The right to freedom of expression and peaceful protest are important values in a democracy, and the public in Sri Lanka have the liberty to exercise these rights which are guaranteed by the Constitution of the country," the Ministry said in the statement.
However, the Ministry pointed out that there have been no instances of violent protests targeting the US Embassy, its diplomats, officials or citizens, though claimed by the US State Department's Security Message that such incidents could occur.
Sri Lanka, while noting that the recent peaceful demonstration on 8th August in front of the US Embassy on the current situation in Gaza was organized by an opposition political party, pointed out that it is a known fact that the US Embassy in Colombo maintains working relations with all opposition parties, including the JVP, which staged the demonstration.
"With reference to the US perception that there is increasing anti-Western sentiment, for which the basis is unclear, it would be prudent for the US authorities to examine the root causes for such a development, and corrective measures may be sought in order to stymie the widening gap in the bilateral relationship," Sri Lanka said.
The Ministry said law enforcement authorities in Sri Lanka have taken necessary action consistently to ensure the safety and security of diplomats, their families, premises and property in accordance with the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, and continue this practice diligently.
A significant number of US citizens live in Sri Lanka and also visit the island every year. There have not been any reports of their safety and security being challenged, it said.
"The Government of Sri Lanka remains firm in its commitment to maintain law and order in the country and protect not only its own citizens, but diplomats as well as non-nationals in the country at all times."