Sri Lanka becoming more authoritarian: UN rights chief

COLOMBO, August 31, 2013 (AFP) – UN human rights chief Navi Pillay on Saturday accused Sri Lanka of becoming “increasingly authoritarian”, with activists facing growing military harassment four years after the end of a civil war. Rajapakse’s government has since been dogged by claims of indiscriminate killing of ethnic minority Tamils. Pillay charged that military officials were harassing and intimidating priests, journalists and other civilians as punishment for meeting her during a fact-finding trip to the island to probe allegations of war crimes.

“I am deeply concerned that Sri Lanka … is showing signs of heading in an increasingly authoritarian direction,” the UN high commissioner for human rights told reporters at the end of a week-long mission.

“You don’t invite a person like me (to the country) and then do this type of thing. This type of surveillance and harassment appears to be getting worse in Sri Lanka, which is a country where critical voices are quite often attacked or even permanently silenced,” she said.

Outside the UN compound in Colombo, dozens of Buddhist monks and their majority Sinhalese followers demonstrated, accusing Pillay of siding with minority Tamils as she addressed reporters who went t