The British government is denying visas to Sri Lankan cricketers. British Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs David Miliband already blocked an important International Monetary Fund loan to the country because Sri Lanka did not heed the UK’s call for a ceasefire against the Tamil Tigers.
The Sri Lankan government has repeatedly denied accusations of large scale civilian casualties and the use of heavy weapons in a government declared No Fire Zone, accusations which led to calls for an immediate ceasefire.
Sri Lanka is being dished out the same treatment the UK dished out to Zimbabwe.
Isolating a nation and creating divisions hasn’t helped the US in regards to Cuba. It sure as hell won’t work for the British against Sri Lanka. Imposing sanctions on the masses and denial of entry for honest hard working sportsmen will not accomplish anything. It will only motivate Sri Lankans to move away from British dependency.
Malinda Warnapura’s visa to the UK has been rejected.
The Warnapura situation has taken a turn worse this week with Tod spokesman Jeff Rudderforth admitting the club felt "in no man’s land" over the expected arrival, or indeed availability, of the talented left handed batsman and spin bowler.
"All the paperwork has been done but we have now been told he has had his visa refused at this end. What the problem is, we’re not sure," said Rudderforth.
Sri Lankan sportsmen play no part in Sri Lanka’s political and military matters. It is completely uncalled for to punish these youth.
A large group of club cricketers have seen their applications rejected, leaving most of them unemployed this season.
It is now left to be seen if the national squad will be given visas for the T20 Cricket World Cup. A source who is an immediate family member of a national cricketer – who wished to remain anonymous – has informed me that family members of cricketers too have faced delays in the processing of their application.
These actions will have serious implications towards UK-SL ties. With events taking a turn for the worst on a daily basis and Britain portraying her arrogance during Sri Lanka’s hour of need, I somehow can’t see it going back to the way it used to be.
Sri Lankans and the poms always maintained a healthy relationship. British tourist were welcomed with open arms and a warm genuine embrace in the past. Somehow I feel all that is bound to change now.
Note: Let me just clarify a few things. I am not putting the British down, propping Sri Lanka up, playing down the death of the innocent causalities of war, or even mixing politics with sport to create some warped conspiracy theory.
I received several emails which point to the fact that the British High Commission was delaying and denying visas. If visas are granted, it is because the British may have had a change of heart.
Many of these people who have been denied visas or had their applications delayed have travelled to the UK previously on numerous occasions. None of them have ever been denied a visa before. Lankan club cricketers travel every year to England so this delay is a first.