Sri Lanka cracks down on opposition ahead of summit

COLOMBO, November 13, 2013 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s military stopped scores of ethnic Tamils protesters from entering the capital Wednesday ahead of a Commonwealth summit as a British TV crew was barred from a former warzone. A UN panel in 2011 found as many as 40,000 civilians may have been killed in the final months of the civil war, mostly due to Sri Lankan military action. But Colombo denies its troops killed any civilians. Sri Lanka had hoped the three-day Commonwealth summit, due to start Friday, would showcase its post-war revival after security forces crushed the decades-long Tamil separatist conflict in 2009.

But it is turning into a major public relations disaster as some of the Commonwealth bloc’s 53 members and rights groups focus attention on the island’s human rights record.

The government also ordered Britain’s Channel 4 TV crew not to travel to the former conflict area of Vavuniya after pro-government activists staged a protest and prevented their train from leaving north-central Anuradhapura town.

Callum Macrae, director of Channel 4’s award-winning documentary: “No Fire Zone: Sri Lanka Killing Fields”, said police told them to return to Colombo.

Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella said the