03/22/2013, 00.00
SRI LANKA
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Christians and Buddhists un favour of UN resolution on Sri Lanka war crimes

by Melani Manel Perera
The United Nation Human Rights Council calls on Sri Lankan authorities to help war victims and conduct "independent and credible" investigations. The government rejects the accusations, ordinary citizens complain that the government is investing money earmarked for refugee housing in tourist projects instead.

Colombo (AsiaNews) - Civil society groups have welcomed a United Nations resolution on war crimes committed during Sri Lanka's civil war adopted yesterday in Geneva. It illustrates the government's weak position and highlights its failures vis-à-vis Tamil civil war victims.

Presented by the United States at the United Nation Human Rights Council, the resolution passed with 25 votes in favour, including India's, 13 against and 8 abstentions. Sri Lanka rejected the measure, accusing foreign nations of voting against it to please Tamils.

The new resolution follows one already adopted in 2012 that called on the Rajapaksa administration to conduct "independent and credible" investigations against war crimes committed by its armed forces and to implement the recommendations issued by the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) instituted by President Mahinda Rajapaksa to investigate the last phase of the war.

Colombo has rejected the accusation, saying that it is already implementing projects in favour of war victims, mostly Tamils. However, some Sri Lankans have told AsiaNews that the government "spends money on meetings, conferences and press briefings" that are "entirely useless, and take funds away from the process of reintegration of internally displaced people." In fact, "hundreds of Tamil families are still living in serious difficulties."

"The government's main priority is to defend its own interests, on land and at sea, but not the fundamental rights of Tamils," said Nihal Premachandra, a Buddhist shop owners in Kandy District (Central Province).

A Catholic in Panadura agrees. "The government is giving priority to the development of the tourist industry. If you travel north, you can see construction on road, bridges, railways and buildings, but nothing to help victims. Human beings and their dignity should take precedence." Northern Sri Lanka has a Tamil majority and was most affected by the civil war.

"A majority of the population does not even know about the special war crime commission," a local source, anonymous for security reason, told AsiaNews. The LLRC report is available only online and in Tamil and English. "Most people do not use the Internet or speak only Sinhala. The government is mocking its own citizens."

Some 73.8 per cent of Sri Lanka's 21.6 million people are Sinhalese. Tamils represent 8.5 per cent. Sinhala and Tamil are official languages and are spoken by 74 and 18 per cent of the population respectively.

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