News / Asia

Sri Lankan Minister Ends Protest Against UN

A Sri Lankan Cabinet minister has ended a three-day fast outside the main United Nations compound in Colombo after failing to get the world body to disband a war-crimes panel.

Housing Minister Wimal Weerawansa called off his fast Saturday after Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse came by to offer him a glass of coconut water and asked him to abandon the protest.  He was later taken away in an ambulance.

Weerawansa and his supporters began their protest Tuesday before he announced a so-called "fast until death" on Thursday.

Weerawansa had demanded that the U.N. call off its investigation into alleged rights abuses during the final months of Sri Lanka's civil war with Tamil rebels.

On Friday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged the Colombo government to take appropriate action to ensure the safety and security of U.N. personnel and premises.  

The European Union and nine other countries, including the United States, also issued a statement warning Sri Lanka that the protests could harm its reputation in the world.

The Colombo government denies any war crimes were committed in the military operation, which resulted in the defeat of Tamil Tiger rebels in May 2009, and appointed its own commission to examine the conflict.

Colombo also insists the international investigation is a violation of the country's sovereignty.

The U.N. has estimated that more than 7,000 ethnic Tamil civilians were killed in the last five months of the fighting.


Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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