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

UN Watchdog Urges Israel to Probe Possible Gaza War Crimes

More than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed in a 51-day war in Gaza, along with 67 Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel More

New Kenyan 'Thin SIMs' Poised to Transform African Mobile Money

Equity's new technology is approved in African nation for one-year trial, though industry leader Safaricom says thin SIMs could lead to data theft and fraud More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power 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.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid