16 Jun 2011

Should England’s cricketers rethink Sri Lanka tour?

Former captain Mike Atherton questions whether England’s cricketers should still tour Sri Lanka, in light of alleged war crimes. In a Channel 4 News poll, 87 per cent agreed there should be a rethink.

Should England's cricketers rethink Sri Lanka tour?

Readers on the Channel 4 News website have said they believe the England cricket team should “reconsider” going on tour in Sri Lanka this winter. It follows comments made by former England captain Mike Atherton in the Times newspaper.

In an online poll, 87 per cent said they believe there should be a rethink in the light of war crimes allegations against the Sri Lankan government, highlighted in Channel 4’s documentary, Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields.

Commenting via a live blog, user Abi said: “There should be a definite boycott of Sri Lankan Cricket. A human rights respecting country like England should not be playing friendly cricket with a country like Sri Lanka…”

But Sellam8 disagreed: “I would kindly request Mike Atherton not to mix games with politics. Mike Atherton can be a cricket comentator but not a political one.”

You can see all the comments below.

Should England’s cricketers play in Sri Lanka?

‘Questions will likely be asked’

Mike Atherton has said questions will “likely” now be asked over England’s planned tour of Sri Lanka, following war crimes allegations highlighted by Channel 4.

The former England captain has written in The Times following the broadcast of groundbreaking documentary Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields this week.

He wrote: “Increasingly, the United Nations’ inaction on the evidence of war crimes [at the end of Sri Lanka’s civil war] looks inexcusable, If that continues, it is likely that questions will be asked about the suitability of England’s tour to Sri Lanka, scheduled for this winter.”

The former batsman added: “There seems little to differentiate President Rajapaska’s brutal regime from that of Robert Mugabe’s in Zimbabwe, about whom English consciences were severely pricked.”

Do you think England should call off the tour? Or should sport and politics stay separate? Tell us on Twitter @channel4news using the hashtag #killingfields or on Facebook: Sri Lanka's Killing Fields - A Channel 4 Investigation
Former England captain Mike Atherton.

(Above: Former England captain Mike Atherton)

‘Convincing evidence’

On Wednesday, David Cameron added his voice to calls for an investigation as the Foreign Office said the Channel 4 programme contained “convincing evidence of violations of human rights”.

New video revealed apparent extrajudicial massacres of prisoners by Sri Lankan government forces, the aftermath of the shelling of civilian hospitals, and the bodies of female Tamil fighters who appeared to have been sexually assaulted.

Officials in Sri Lanka continue to insist the footage is “fake”.

More from Channel 4 News: Killing Fields video evidence 'builds case for war crimes'

Sri Lanka’s ‘rebrand’

Sri Lanka has begun a campaign to win the right to host the 2018 Commonwealth Games, with one official saying the country needs a “rebrand” after the 25-year war which left more than 100,000 people dead.

Ajith Nivard Cabraal, the co-chairman of Sri Lanka’s Commonwealth Games Committee, said: “Sri Lanka needs a new brand to put conflict and terrorism behind and move forward, to show the reconciliation to the world, to encourage our own people to appreciate and believe in their own abilities and to create sustainable growth momentum.”

Talk to us on Twitter @channel4news using the hashtag #killingfields or on Facebook: Sri Lanka's Killing Fields - A Channel 4 Investigation

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