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PM accused of legitimising brutal regime

Cameron slammed for Rajapaksa handshake

Tamil exiles in Britain voiced anger yesterday as David Cameron's motorcade purred through their homeland between photocalls with their persecutors.

Hundreds of demonstrators clutching photos of missing relatives thronged the PM's car as he drove through the northern city of Jaffna to a Commonwealth nations' conference in Sri Lanka.

Mr Cameron (right), who visited a local library, a newspaper's offices and a Tamil refugee camp, promised "a frank exchange of views" with president Mahinda Rajapaksa regarding the killings and disappearances.

But the comments came just hours after the PM was snapped shaking hands with Rajapaksa himself - a move which Tamil activists in Britain said lent legitimacy to the regime.

News of the Trans Tamils editor Jay Tharan said it was well known the Sri Lankan government had a "dream" of chairing the Commonwealth organisation next year.

The PM deceived British Tamils and worldwide human right activists by vowing to attend and send a tough message to Sri Lankan regime, Mr Tharan said.

"His hand shake with Rajapaksa will remain long in the Tamil hearts who will never forgive him for such [an] act."

Canadian, Indian and Mauritian leaders have boycotted the Commonwealth meeting in protest over the Rajapaksa regime's human rights abuses.

Up to 40,000 civilians are believed to have died in the regime's final assault on ethnic Tamil strongholds in 2009 while widespread reports of rape, torture, kidnappings and intimidation of the press and judiciary continue.

Meanwhile UK Trade and Investment figures show trade officials signed off nearly £5 million worth of military-restricted goods bound for Sri Lanka last year.

Around £2m of those were classified as small arms and weapons including assault rifles, combat shotguns, pistols, components and "acoustic devices for riot control."

Campaign Against Arms Trade spokeswoman Kaye Stearman said there had been far fewer applications for export licences in recent months.

But the decline was likely due to larger markets in the Middle East than Mr Cameron's conversion, she said.

"I think there's been a huge amount of pressure on Cameron from the UK - there's a big diaspora here who are very upset about what's going on.

"I think he can afford to affect outrage without having to do anything very much," she said.

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