Amnesty World Cup campaign not cricket, Sri Lanka fumes

April 1, 2007 (AFP) – Sri Lanka protested Sunday against an Amnesty International campaign at the cricket World Cup drawing attention to human rights abuses on the island.

The London-based rights group has been calling for Sri Lanka to ‘Play by the Rules’ in its conflict with Tamil rebels by persuading thousands of fans to sign special cricket balls and join in activities at the tournament in the Caribbean.

“This is a campaign to tarnish the image of the country and the government and the people of Sri Lanka overwhelmingly disapprove it,” said Chandrapala Liyanage, a top official in President Mahinda Rajapakse’s office.

Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC), the sport’s governing body, has lodged a protest with the International Cricket Council.

“We have already written to the International Cricket Council (ICC) on the issue,” said SLC secretary K. Mathivanan, adding that Sri Lanka team manager Michael Tissera had been asked to “take up the matter with the ICC.”

Amnesty says the Sri Lankan government, Tamil rebels and other armed groups must commit themselves to allowing independent human rights monitors to oversee the island’s long-running conflict.