News / Asia

UN Closes Sri Lanka Office After Days of Protests

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is recalling the top U.N. official in Sri Lanka and closing the U.N. office in Colombo, following three days of Sri Lankan protests against a U.N. war crimes panel.

Mr. Ban said Thursday it was "unacceptable" that Sri Lankan authorities had failed to prevent "unruly" protests from disrupting the normal functioning of U.N. offices in the capital.

The U.N. chief issued a statement saying the U.N. resident coordinator (Neil Buhne) was being recalled to New York for consultations.

The announcement came hours after a Sri Lankan cabinet minister said he would begin a hunger strike outside the United Nations office in Colombo, to protest the world's body investigation of alleged war crimes during the country's civil war.

Housing minister Wimal Weerawansa was greeted by cheering and flag-waving supporters when he vowed to continue his fast until the United Nations dissolves a three-member panel looking into alleged war crimes committed during more than two decades of civil war with Tamil Tiger rebels. The government denies that any war crimes were committed during the military operation, which resulted in the defeat of Tamil Tiger rebels.  

The minister says the U.N. panel has been established "to hunt down our soldiers."  He fears the panel is a plan to take Sri Lanka's military before a war crimes tribunal.  He says he is prepared to fast to death to stop that from happening.  

The hunger strike is the latest move by the minister, who has been leading protests outside the U.N. office in Colombo since Tuesday, when many staff members were trapped for several hours as protesters blocked exits.

Minister Weerawansa leads the ultranationalist National Freedom Front, an ally of President Mahinda Rajapaksa's government.

The minister's fast and protests appear to have been given the "green light" from the highest levels of the government said Jehan Perera, the head of Colombo's National Peace Council.

"The message that is going is that what the U.N. is doing is an unacceptable intrusion into Sri Lanka's internal affairs, and this person [the housing minister] is trying to make a very strong statement on behalf of the government." Perera said.

The United Nations strongly objects to the protests and says it has no plans to scrap the panel.  The government has assured the world body that its staff will be able to enter and leave the building.

Sri Lanka's civil war ended last year, but human rights groups have alleged that thousands of civilians were deliberately targeted by both the army and the rebels in the final stages of the conflict.

You May Like

Video Experts Warn World Losing Ebola Fight

Doctors Without Borders says world is losing battle against Ebola, unless wealthy nations dispatch specialized biological disaster response teams More

Video Experts: Rise of Islamic State Significant Development in Jihadism

Many analysts contend the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years More

US-Based Hong Kongers Pledge Support for Pro-Democracy Activists

Democracy advocates call on Chinese living abroad to join them in opposing new election rules for their home territory More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid