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Sri Lankan president Oxford Union visit cancelled

[BBC, Wednesday, 1 December 2010 18:07 No Comment]

A planned visit by the president of Sri Lanka to the Oxford Union has been cancelled because of security concerns.

Police had warned of disruption in the city during the visit on Thursday.

Thousands had been expected to protest over Mahinda Rajapaksa’s treatment of Tamil separatists and civilians.

The Oxford Union said: "Due to the sheer scale of the expected protests, we do not feel that the talk can reasonably and safely go ahead."

Before the cancellation, Thames Valley Police had planned to close several roads in the city centre between 1300 and 2300 GMT.

A statement from the Oxford Union said: "Due to security concerns surrounding Mr Rajapaksa’s visit which have recently been brought to our attention by the police, the union has regretfully found the talk is no longer practicable and has had to cancel his address.

"This decision was not taken lightly and the union deeply regrets the cancellation.

"The union has a long tradition of hosting prominent speakers and upholding the principles of free speech."

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