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Thursday, June 20, 2024

Boycott U.S. products – Wimal

Minister Wimal Weerawansa hit headlines in international media yesterday when he urged the nation to boycott American products such as gmail, google, McDonalds, KFC and beverages to show Sri Lanka’s resistance to the impending US resolution on Sri Lanka which is to be presented at the 19th session of the UNHRC in Geneva.
Addressing a public rally in Hyde Park against the US backed resolution; Minister Weerawansa said all Sri Lankans should display their strength by avoiding American products.
“They will feel the impact of our actions. I also used a gmail account. But from now onwards I will refrain from using gmail. Let’s create a country that boycotts American brands and show the US that we are prepared to fight with them if they want to fight with us,” Weerawansa said.
Weerawansa’s remark, however, came under heavy criticism from various parties. Well informed sources said Weerawansa has irked the diplomatic community as well. But the US embassy came up with a sober response to the Minister’s statement.

“The US Embassy respects the right of peaceful protest and for citizens to freely express their opinions.  These are hallmarks of democracy.” the US Embassy in Colombo said in a statement yesterday.
Some connected this to Weerawansa’s infamous fast unto death campaign against the UN Experts Panel report on Sri Lanka which ended after two and half days when President Mahinda Rajapaksa offered a glass of orange juice. Some termed Weerawansa is suggesting to step back to the ‘stone age’ by boycotting products such as ‘gmail’ and ‘google’.
Coincidently, minutes before making this fresh anti-American statement, Weerawansa met Lakubandilaaththo, leader of the Henanigala Veddah community. The Veddah leader also visited the anti-US resolution rally on Monday, organized by Wimal Weerawansa and his political allies.

Weerawansa’s controversial remark drew the international media’s attention to a great extent. Many termed this as a part of the government’s propaganda campaign against the US backed resolution. In all the pro-government demonstrations and protests which took place within the past two weeks, ‘anti-Americanism’ played a pivotal role.
Many international news agencies and foreign newspapers extracted the news report which was published by the Associated Press yesterday on Wimal Weerawansa’s statement.

“Mr Weerawansa accused the Tamil Tiger leader in exile Visvanathan Rudrakumaran, who now lives in the US, of having divided loyalties between America and the Tamils as he campaigned for an investigation into the alleged abuses during the country’s civil war.

Sri Lanka’s government has organized a series of protests against the resolution.

It believes the resolution is interference and defends its own investigation, while human rights activists say Sri Lanka’s efforts have fallen short of international standards.

The resolution calls on Sri Lanka to investigate allegations of human rights abuses by both the government troops and Tamil Tiger rebels in the final months of the war.

A UN panel’s investigation found tens of thousands of people may have been killed, largely through shell fire by the government troops.

Mr Weerawansa said the resolution would be destructive to the post-war atmosphere. He called on people to boycott American brands such as Coca-Cola, Pepsi, KFC, McDonalds and Google’s email service Gmail.

Let’s create a country that boycotts American brands and then show the US that we are prepared to fight with them if they want to fight with us,” he said in Colombo.” the Associate Press reported.

At the same time, prominent American newspapers and international media agencies such as USA Today, ABC news, CBS news and ‘Timesonline’ have given high prominence to Weerawansa’s statement.

Meanwhile, the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna, the party which Wimal Weerawansa once represented, lashed out at the latter for making the controversial anti-US statement. Addressing a press conference in Pelawatte, Battaramulla yesterday, JVP Propaganda Secretary Vijitha Herath said if the government is serious about “anti- Americanism”, it can impose a ban on American products officially.

“Weerawansa is a senior member of the Cabinet and a stakeholder of the ruling coalition. Why can’t the government ban American products, if they are seriously anti-American?” Herath mockingly asked during the press conference.

Speaking to Ceylon Today on the condition under the condition of anonymity, a senior UNP Parliamentarian said now the government should declare whether Weerawansa’s remarks represent the government’s official stand on the SL-US relations which are now strained following the UNHRC resolution.

But, on the contrary, Leader of the House and senior Cabinet Minister Nimal Siripala De Silva on Sunday told Ceylon Today that the US resolution will not harm the cordial relationships between Sri Lanka and the US and the two countries will remain friends.

However, after Weerawansa’s statement was reported in a news website on Tuesday night, a reader had posted comment on that asking a simple question.

“Okay, So what about the US aid?” that is what the reader asked from Weerawansa.

Even though Ceylon Today tried to contact Weerawansa on Wednesday to get his answer for that question, he was unavailable to comment.
By Rasika Jayakody
(Ceylon Today Online)


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