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

Ukraine: Mysterious 'Roaming Tank' Reportedly Takes Aim at Smugglers

Ukraine's TV, print media, Facebook abuzz with reports a 'roaming tank' is on the loose, destroying vehicles of those involved in smuggling More

US Wildlife Service Begins Probe of Killing of Cecil the Lion

Minnesota man accused of killing beast is in hiding, has been asked to contact US officials; White House to review extradition petition More

Video Kerry Five-Nation Tour to Cover Security, Iran Nuclear Deal

Secretary of state will visit Egypt, Qatar, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam to discuss security issues, Iran nuclear deal, Trans-Pacific Partnership More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’i
X
July 29, 2015 9:34 PM
Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs