News / Asia

Protesters Demand End to UN Probe into Sri Lankan War Crimes

Protesters in Sri Lanka led by a Cabinet minister have surrounded the United Nations office to demand the world body end a probe into allegations of human rights abuses during the country's civil war.  

The protesters, led by Housing Minister Wimal Weerawansa, first broke through police barricades at the United Nations office in Colombo on Tuesday, then held sit-in demonstrations to block the entrance and exits from the building. They also burnt an effigy of U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

The minister demanded that the U.N. scrap a three-member panel established last month to advise whether human rights violations took place during the civil war that ended last year with the defeat of Tamil Tiger rebels.

Minister Weerawansa says that the U.N. panel is intended to take the country's political leaders before international courts. Sri Lanka's government has been fending off growing pressure to allow an independent investigation into alleged war crimes, having already said it will not cooperate with the panel and refusing visas to its members.    

The head of the Center for Policy Alternatives in Colombo, Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, says the demonstration to the U.N. office was politically led, but there is a measure of popular support.

"Nationalist sentiment is being whipped up, saying Sri Lanka is being targeted. But there is a certain amount of public sentiment that is very much in tune with the government's argument that there is an international agenda to target Sri Lanka on human rights," said Saravanamuttu.

Over the past year, Sri Lanka has faced growing international demands to allow a credible investigation into alleged war time abuses. But the government has refused to buckle under the pressure, calling this an infringement of its sovereignty.

It ignored a July 1 deadline set by the European Union to deliver written pledges on improving human rights, prompting the EU to withdraw preferential trade concessions to Sri Lanka on Monday.

The government has shrugged off the EU's decision, saying it will take steps to help export businesses which are affected.  

Sri Lanka denies widespread accusations by human rights groups that the rebels and the army were responsible for thousands of deaths of civilians in the last phase of the war. It says the military operation ended terrorism in the country, and wiped out the Tamil Tigers, a ruthless guerrilla group which led a three decade war for a homeland for ethnic Tamils.

You May Like

At International AIDS Conference One Goal, Many Paths

The 12,000 delegates attending 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne have vastly different visions about how to eradicate disease More

Disasters May Doom Malaysia’s Flag Carrier

Even before loss of two jets loaded with passengers on international flights, company had been operating in red for three years, accumulating deficit of $1.3 billion More

Afghan Presidential Vote Audit Continues Despite Glitches

Process has been marred by walkouts by representatives of two competing candidates, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani 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.
Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Agei
X
Elizabeth Lee
July 20, 2014 2:36 AM
Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.
Video

Video Diplomatic Crisis Grows Over MH17 Plane Crash

The Malaysia Airlines crash in eastern Ukraine is drawing reaction from leaders around the world. With suspicions growing that a surface-to-air missile shot down the aircraft, there are increasing tensions in the international community over who is to blame. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Undocumented Immigrants Face Perilous Journey to US, No Guarantees

Every day, hundreds of undocumented immigrants from Central America attempt the arduous journey through Mexico and turn themselves over to U.S. border patrol -- with the hope that they will not be turned away. But the dangers they face along the way are many, and as Ramon Taylor reports from the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, their fate rests on more than just the reception they get at the US border.
Video

Video Scientists Create Blackest Material Ever

Of all the black things in the universe only the infamous "black holes" are so black that not even a tiny amount of light can bounce back. But scientists have managed to create material almost as black, and it has enormous potential use. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Fog Collector Transforming Maasai Water Harvesting in Kenya

The Maasai people of Kenya are known for their cattle-herding, nomadic lifestyle. But it's an existence that depends on access to adequate water for their herds and flocks. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA, on a "fog collector."

AppleAndroid