Sri Lankan defence official slams West over rights outcry

COLOMBO, June 13, 2007 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s top defence official has accused Western nations of bullying his government over human rights and defended the eviction of ethnic Tamils from the capital, a report said Wednesday. Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapakse also rejected warnings from Britain that the former colony risked international isolation over the deteriorating rights situation in the island.

“Britain, or Western countries, the EU (European Union) countries, they can do whatever,” Rajapakse said in an interview with the BBC. “We don’t depend on them … they are not giving anything.”

His move to evict nearly 400 ethnic minority Tamils from the capital was halted by the Supreme Court amid an avalanche of condemnation by local and foreign human rights groups.

The country’s prime minister on Sunday expressed regret over the expulsions, promised it will not happen again and apologised to the Tamils after promising a disciplinary action against officials responsible for excesses.

The defence secretary, however, defended the action — aimed at preventing Tamil Tiger rebels from infiltrating the capital — and lambasted foreign governments which condemned the Tamil evictions.

“This is inter