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U.S. youths launch campaign against Microsoft Investment in Sri Lanka

[TamilNet, Monday, 10 August 2009 19:30 No Comment]

Noting MSNBC’s coverage of the conditions within the military supervised internment camps in Vavuniyaa, which said that "no one is allowed to leave the camps and few are permitted entrance," and that the camps are "at best…at the edge of all kinds of internal principles…but more likely…illegal," the U.S. based activist youth group, PEARL, urged Microsoft to reconsider investments in Sri Lanka, saying, "[t]he human rights community and Tamils all over the world are deeply concerned about the ultimate use of funds given to government of Sri Lanka. While technology transfer is important, blanket support should not be given to governments who do not respect the rule of law and basic human rights. We urge you to hear the cries of voiceless Tamils, and avoid doing business with regimes as egregious as Sri Lanka’s."

While praising the charitable activities of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in the areas of global health, the youth campaign referred to the Gates Foundation goal of increasing "access to information technology in impoverished countries," and said, "[a]lthough this is yet another admirable pursuit, the business you have decided to carry out in Sri Lanka is deeply concerning to human rights activists."

The message added, "Sri Lanka has been enmeshed in a human rights and humanitarian crisis for decades; in the first 6 months of this year, CNN reported that over 20,000 Tamil civilians were killed as the government pursued an intense military offensive. Currently, over 280,000 Tamil refugees are trapped in internment camps in the north, without full access to aid agencies, journalists or human rights monitors. Despite this situation, several articles quote your enthusiasm for negotiations with President Rajapaksa and his government to further economic growth in the country. Unfortunately, any profits made from these technological innovations will likely be exploited by the government for the continuation of its internment camps."

The message to Microsoft also noted that "the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, which includes Amnesty International USA, depicted the military-controlled internment camps as having 80,000 children, many of whom are being abducted for ransom, possibly for government supported armed groups."

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