News / Asia

Sri Lanka Hits Back at UN Rights Chief After Visit

Ethnic Tamil girl presents floral garland to welcome U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, Kilinochchi, Sri Lanka, Aug. 27, 2013.
Ethnic Tamil girl presents floral garland to welcome U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, Kilinochchi, Sri Lanka, Aug. 27, 2013.
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Reuters
— Sri Lanka's government criticized the U.N.'s top human rights official on Wednesday for calling attention to accusations that police and soldiers had harassed people who met her during a visit to the country's former war zones.
 
Navi Pillay, ending a mission to assess Sri Lanka's progress after a 26-year war between the government and separatist Tamils, said on Saturday she had received reports that people she had met in the north and east during her seven-day trip were questioned and intimidated.
 
She said the U.N. viewed any reprisals against people who talked to its officials as an extremely serious matter and that such harassment "appears to be getting worse in Sri Lanka, which is a country where critical voices are quite often attacked or even permanently silenced."
 
Government spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella said Pillay should not comment on accusations from people who fail to produce evidence.
 
"If it has happened, it has to be reported to the police station," said Rambukwella, adding that the police had received no complaints. "Then inquiries can be conducted."
 
"I have no evidence that she had inquired from authorities [about harassment]," he said. "She just said that because somebody has just told her."
 
Pillay — a South African of Indian Tamil origin — said people were still suffering four years after the end of the war and there were signs the country was becoming more authoritarian.
 
The government later said the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights had acted beyond her mandate with the comments.
 
Her visit followed a U.S.-sponsored U.N. resolution in March that urged Sri Lanka to carry out credible investigations into killings and disappearances during the war, especially during its final stages.
 
Family members of disappeared Tamil people holding pictures of their relatives protest during the visit of U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, in Jaffna, Sri Lanka, Aug. 27, 2013.Family members of disappeared Tamil people holding pictures of their relatives protest during the visit of U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, in Jaffna, Sri Lanka, Aug. 27, 2013.
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Family members of disappeared Tamil people holding pictures of their relatives protest during the visit of U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, in Jaffna, Sri Lanka, Aug. 27, 2013.
Family members of disappeared Tamil people holding pictures of their relatives protest during the visit of U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, in Jaffna, Sri Lanka, Aug. 27, 2013.
She visited the former northern war zones in Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Mullaitivu and the eastern district of Trincomalee, and met leaders in the capital, Colombo. The visit sparked demonstrations both supporting and opposing her mission.
 
New York-based Human Rights Watch said on Wednesday that Sri Lanka's government should promptly investigate the allegations that security forces harassed people who met with the U.N. human rights chief.
 
Rambukwella dismissed the demand, saying: "We don't take Human Rights Watch seriously at all as they are totally biased."

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Comments
     
by: Shiva from: Canada
September 06, 2013 10:49 AM
Sri Lankan Sinhala Buddhist Apartheid regimes have been denying fundamental rights, Human Rights, democracy, rule of law, Justice and equality to the Tamils since independence from the British in 1948. The current regime has been committing crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing and genocide of the Tamils with the collaboration of other leaders /nations.

The International community has failed to prevent genocide and war crimes and not taken any meaningful action to conduct an independent transparent international investigation of human rights abuses and crimes against humanity to date.

It is time for the collaborators of the heinous crimes to deal firmly with the alleged war criminal Rajapakse regime and investigate all crimes and deliver justice. The Sri Lankan regime has been successfully covering up war crimes and genocide and also bullying, intimidating, threatening and branding those who demand for independent investigation inclduing diplomats, UN staff including Navi Pillay, Journalists and human rights groups as agents of the LTTE and on the payroll of the LTTE although LTTE was defeated and not existing today. Japan is mislead and supporting this regime despite it has committed serious crimes against humanity.

The progressive leaders must jointly put an end the Sinhala Buddhist Apartheid menace that is only existing in Sri Lanka and bring democracy, freedom, Human Rights, Rule of law, justice, peace and stability to all.

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