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

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

Analysts say move by President Xi is an effort to win more party support, take step toward economic reforms, removing those who would stand in way of change More

South Africa Land Reforms Still Contentious 20 Years Later

Activists argue that the pace of land reform is slow and biased; legal experts question how some proposed reforms would be implemented More

In Vietnam, Religious Freedoms Violated, UN Finds

Beliefs reportedly prompt heavy surveillance, intimidation and travel restrictions 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.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid