The Ministry of External Affairs has clarified certain misleading assertions regarding the alleged incident involving Ms. Leigh Rhiannon an Australian Senator and Ms. Jan Logie a MP from New Zealand.
In their media release the Ministry says that on 10th November 2013, upon being alerted that some foreigners were about to address a press conference organized by the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) at TNA Office in Colombo, officials from the Department of Immigration and Emigration visited the venue and inquired on the visa status of the said foreign nationals. It was revealed that Ms. Rhiannon and Ms. Logie were in Sri Lanka on tourist visas even though they had engaged in political activities. It was learnt that the duo had previously visited Jaffna where they had several political meetings. It was pointed out that this was in clear violation of the terms and conditions of a ‘tourist visa’ as per Section 28 of the Immigration and Emigration Act.
The Foreign Ministry further states, it must be reiterated that at no point were the two persons detained or questioned as some media have misleadingly reported. The discussion between immigration officers and the two foreign nationals occurred at the TNA Office in Colombo. Both individuals left the country as they had previously planned having been appraised by immigration officers of the violation of their visa terms. It is unfortunate that there has been an attempt to mislead the public by stating that the individuals were issued a ‘special project visa’ which in fact is meant for projects related with studentships. It is also misleading to claim that the visas were obtained from the Sri Lanka consulate in Sydney when in fact the two individuals had obtained visas online.
The Ministry of External Affairs reiterates the commitment of the Government of Sri Lanka to keep our friends in the international community duly briefed on the developments in the country. There has been constructive engagement with many countries including Australia and New Zealand in recent times and as a result several elected officials, including those representing opposition as well as government parties have undertaken numerous fact finding missions. These visits are seen by the Sri Lankan Government as essential in its efforts to nullify misinformation and malicious propaganda against the country. Many politicians and officials who have undertaken fact finding missions have witnessed for themselves the ground realities prevailing in the country and have reported their findings in a balanced and accurate manner. Since Senator Rhiannon and MP Logie are most welcome to visit Sri Lanka in their official capacities and comprehensively analyze developments that are happening in the political and economic spheres it is most unfortunate that they have opted to do so in violation of basic diplomatic courtesies and practice. It needs to be mentioned that these actions are detrimental to the reconciliation process in Sri Lanka and are believed to be motivated by political agendas that are not concerned with the wellbeing of the people of Sri Lanka, the Foreign Ministry states.