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

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age 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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs