South Asia News
Protests in Sri Lanka over UN Human Rights Council resolution
Feb 27, 2012, 12:52 GMT
Colombo - Protests took place across Sri Lanka on Monday against a proposed resolution at the United Nations Human Rights Council sessions in Geneva demanding accountability for war crimes allegedly committed during the civil war that ended in 2009.
The government-sponsored protests came hours ahead of the opening sessions in Geneva where Sri Lanka is to defend its position.
Demonstrations were held in more than 150 locations around the country, including former Tamil rebel-held areas in the north and east now under the control of the military. Almost all were organized by the ruling United People's Freedom Alliance.
The main protest took place in the capital where an estimated 10,000 people waved national flags.
The protests were directed mostly against the United States, which has said it would back the proposed resolution.
Demonstrators chanted slogans outside the US embassy in Colombo: 'Do not interfere in internal matters', 'Do not do the same as you did in Iraq' and 'Withdraw the resolution against Sri Lanka'.
Sri Lanka has admitted that some 8,000 civilians died during the final five months of the conflict in which the Tamil rebels were defeated.
'We will be explaining at the human rights sessions (in Geneva) later in the day, the measures taken to restore normalcy in the country after the end of the conflict and the steps taken to address accountability issues,' Mahinda Samarasinghe, co-chair of Sri Lanka's Permanent Standing Committee on Human Rights, told state-run radio from Geneva.
'We will question the need for such resolution against Sri Lanka as we believe we have taken a number of steps to address issues arising from the conflict,' Samarasinghe said.
The government appointed its own commission to probe the final eight years of the 30-year conflict. International critics said its recommendations, including investigations of alleged abuse by the military, have not been implemented.
Sri Lanka said investigations had begun.
Human rights groups said more than 40,000 civilians were killed in the final stages of the conflict, while the UN puts that number at 10,000.
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