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

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu 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.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid