Sri Lanka China debt trap: Jaffna students protest war crimes

On August 30, students of the Jaffna University lashed out at Qi Zhenhong, the Chinese envoy in Sri Lanka, for extending support to the government of Sri Lanka’s stand on war crimes. The matter is expected to come up at the United Nations Human Rights Council session in September.

In a letter issued by University Students’ Union, University of Jaffna, they called the tweet (thread) by the Chinese Ambassador irresponsible and condemned the support China extended to Sri Lanka for the upcoming UN UN Human Rights Council session on accountability of war crimes.

They said, “We, Jaffna university students, are extremely hurt by the irresponsible tweet by the Chinese Ambassador to Sri Lanka supporting and protecting Sri Lanka at the upcoming UN Human Rights Council session in Geneva on accountability for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and Genocide committed by the Sri Lankan state against the Tamil people.”

The letter further pointed out that despite being aware of the death of over 70,000 Tamils during the last six months of war, rapes and missing persons, China decided to support Sri Lanka.

The letter said, “China is well aware of the suffering Tamils have undergone during the war, including according to the UN over 70 thousand Tamils were killed during the last six months of the war, hundreds of Tamil women and girls were raped by Sri Lankan armed forces and thousands of Tamils, including babies, disappeared. According to UK foreign office, over 90 thousand Tamil war widows are in Tamil areas facing numerous hardships, including the large number of the army occupying Tamil areas. After the war, lands are taken to settle the Sinhala Buddhist people to make us a minority in our traditional homeland.”

The student union said, “At a point when countries like UK, USA, India, Germany and others are coming together to act for the benefit of the Tamils at the United Nations Human Rights Commission, the statement of the Chinese Ambassador is aimed at increasing their influence in the country by taking the side of the Sri Lankan Government.”

Condemning the anti-Tamil mindset of China to increase its influence in the North and East, the union said, “We strongly condemn attempts by anti-Tamil mindset China to increase influence in the North and East, the traditional homeland of the Tamils. We are extremely hurt and condemn the Chinese Ambassador’s insensitive tweet, which demean decades long suffering of our people. We urge the Chinese Ambassador to withdraw the content of the tweet and urge him to support our call to refer Sri Lanka to ICC at the upcoming UNHRC session.”

Chinese misleading statement attracted criticism from India
It is noteworthy that on August 27, India slammed China for false insinuations about bullying and interfering in Sri Lankan affairs. The Indian High Commission in Colombo slammed the Chinese Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Qi Zhenhong, for falsely accusing India of bullying and interfering in the internal affairs of the island nation.

The recent issue between the India and China has been the lodging of Yuan Wang 5, a Chinese satellite and ballistic missile tracking ship (disguised as a Chinese research vessel), at Hambantota port on August 16.

The said port was leased to China in 2017 for a period of 99 years after the Sri Lankan government defaulted on the $1.4 million debt repayment.

“His view of Sri Lanka’s northern neighbour may be coloured by how his own country behaves. India, we assure him, is very different. His imputing a geopolitical context to the visit of a purportedly scientific research vessel is a giveaway,” responded Indian High Commission to Colombo.

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