Asia

Sri Lanka minister Mervyn Silva condemned by colleague

Mervyn Silva (left) and the tied-up official
Image caption Mervyn Silva (L) has been involved in many controversial incidents

Sri Lankan Foreign Minister GL Peiris has condemned a cabinet colleague for making public threats of violence.

He said no-one could condone or justify remarks made by Mervyn Silva, who on Friday threatened to "break the limbs" of those who "betrayed" the country.

The row comes days after state TV channel ITN broadcast pictures of journalists and rights workers it labelled as "disloyal" and "traitors".

However, Mr Peiris declined to criticise the network.

All those criticised by ITN had allegedly gone against the government at the UN Human Rights Council, which last week passed a resolution critical of the country's rights record.

Mr Peiris said the people depicted in the thinly disguised pictures on ITN had been making "false and malicious allegations harmful to the national interest".

"Confronted with that situation, I don't think you would seriously question that some people would react very strongly," he said.

'Spewing hate'

The police have said they are looking into Mr Silva's speech, in which he also said he was responsible for a journalist fleeing the country having been beaten up.

Reacting to the foreign minister's comments, one of the human rights activists who was criticised by ITN, Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, said the government was responsible for "spewing out hate" in the state media.

He said the authorities should be protecting him and other Sri Lankan citizens but were instead vilifying and abusing them.

There was a nationalistic upsurge, sponsored by the government, before the run-up to last Thursday's resolution which urged Sri Lanka to act on rights issues.

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