Former UK PM Blair begins visit to Sri Lanka

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair arrived in Sri Lanka today on what was said to be a private visit.He was accompanied by his wife and children and was expected to travel around the country during his stay. Tony Blair served as Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from May 1997 to June 2007. He was also the leader of Britain’s Labour Party (1994 to 2007) and the Member of Parliament for Sedgefield, England (1983 to 2007). Tony Blair is also the founder of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation. An opinion article appearing on the Foundation website last week said that the inaction of the previous government led to increased persecution of religious minority communities in Sri Lanka but the situation has improved since the January 2015 election. The article also says with former-President Mahinda Rajapaksa running for prime minister at the election next week there is a risk of an increase in religiously-divisive rhetoric, or worse, violence against religious minority communities by members and supporters of Buddhist nationalist groups, particularly Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) and Sinhala Ravaya.The article said that should Rajapaksa become prime minister, the international community and advocates of religious freedom should be prepared to monitor his actions and policies. (Colombo Gazette)

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