News / Asia

Sri Lanka: UN War Crimes Probe Politically Motivated

A group of Sri Lankan Muslims shout slogans, protesting against the UN and U.S resolution against Sri Lankan war crimes, during a demonstration as they march towards U.S embassy in Colombo, March 26, 2014.
A group of Sri Lankan Muslims shout slogans, protesting against the UN and U.S resolution against Sri Lankan war crimes, during a demonstration as they march towards U.S embassy in Colombo, March 26, 2014.
Anjana Pasricha
— Sri Lanka has denounced as politically motivated the United Nations approval of an international investigation into alleged atrocities committed during the final stages of the country’s civil war. While Sri Lanka has consistently denied accusations of war crimes, the U.N. has faulted Colombo’s own probes as not credible.
 
Sri Lankan Presidential Spokesman Mohan Samaranayake said sponsors of the resolution approved Thursday in the United Nations Human Rights Council did not take into consideration that his country was fighting terrorism during the civil war that ended five years ago.
 
Samaranayake told VOA the resolution is not about human rights.  “This whole exercise is politically motivated, biased and unjust and one-sided. We believe it is not really about human rights. If it is about human rights, the sponsors of this resolution and its backers must commend the government of Sri Lanka because Sri Lankan government safeguarded and protected the supreme human right, that is the right to live,” he said.
 
The resolution is the toughest of three brought against Sri Lanka at the UNHRC in recent years. The focus has been on war crimes committed by soldiers and rebels during the last months of the military operation in 2009 that crushed a three-decade long insurgency by Tamil Tiger rebels.
 
Supported by 23 countries in the 47-member U.N. Human Rights Council, the latest resolution slams Sri Lanka for doing little to conduct a credible investigation or ensure accountability for the alleged atrocities, creating a need for an international investigation.
 
A U.N. panel set up by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has said up to 40,000 civilians were killed in the final stages of the conflict, including thousands of civilians. There have been reports of hospitals being bombed and Tamil Tiger supporters being tortured.
 
Global response to the U.N. resolution is mixed. Western countries like the United States have welcomed the measure, saying it sends a message that Sri Lanka must pursue lasting peace. But India, which had supported earlier calls for an impartial investigation, abstained from the vote this time over fears that an outside inquiry impinges on a country’s sovereignty.   
 
Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa's spokesman did not comment if his country will cooperate with international investigators. He said the government will study the whole process and then decide what to do next.
 
But Samaranayake said such a probe will be counterproductive.  “This kind of exercise will further end in disaster. It will further aggravate the situation and it will impede the fragile reconciliation process that is going on in this country," stated Samaranayake. "Reconciliation is not one single act.”
 
The Sri Lankan government said it has been promoting investment, economic growth and resettlement of the Tamil ethnic minority in the north and the east, where the insurgency was based.  
 
Jehan Perera at the independent National Peace Council in Colombo said while development and rehabilitation has taken place in the Tamil-dominated parts of the country, the government needs to do a great deal more to de-militarize the area.
 
“Even the LTTE [Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam] cadre who have been rehabilitated and released are under tight surveillance and they are very vulnerable to being harassed by the Sri Lankan authorities. The military is essentially running the north and the east, the governors of the north and east are both from the military. It is difficult to hold a meeting in the north and east without the security forces coming in plain clothes and asking questions. The devolution of powers which the government pledged also has not happened," said Perera.
 
In recent years, the Sri Lankan government has been criticized by human rights groups for become increasingly authoritarian and continuing to intimidate human rights defenders and journalists.
 
Spokesperson Samaranayake said the country is being punished for ending terrorism and that it will rely on support from its people to tide over the latest challenge.

You May Like

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid