(AsiaNews) - Thousands of people have taken to the streets to protest a
resolution by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva on
alleged abuses committed by the Sri Lankan government and Tamil rebels during
the country's civil war. The demonstrations are organised by the government of
President Mahinda Rajapaksa who believes that the UN resolution is an attempt
by Western powers to interfere in the domestic affairs of Sri Lanka. Noticeably,
the protests took place yesterday, opening day of the 19th session
of the UNHRC in Geneva (27 February-24 March). On 26 April 2011, the United
Nations released a report accusing the Sri Lankan government of murdering
thousands of civilians during the final phase of the conflict in 2009.
supporters, lawmakers for Rajapaksa's United People's Freedom Alliance, Buddhist
monks, Hindu holy men and Muslim Sri Lankans invaded some 150 cities across the
country, shouting slogans and waving the national flag.
cabinet ministers have called on Sri Lankans irrespective of ethnic, religious,
economic, political and social differences to unite to save the country by
showing the strength of the Rajapaksa administration and the goodwill of the
many people have criticised the demonstrations. According to Sujeewa
Senasinghe, a lawmaker from Colombo elected with the United National Party, the
country's main opposition party, the protest is part of a strategy to divert
the attention of the country. "These protests are a means of hoodwinking the
masses," he said. "The country is in tatters, both economically and
politically. The rule of law is depleting day by day, abductions are on the
rise and the cost of living has skyrocketed."
citizens have also come out against the protests, calling them a waste of money.
For many of them, protesting against the UN is not a way to solve the country's
the UN report noted that more than 40,000 were killed by air bombing. It also
described life in the Vanni 'no-fire zone', where the government concentrated
330,000 people, as a living hell. It found that prisoners were shot in the
head, women raped, and children's bodies left mangled. The report also accuses Tamil rebels (LTTE) of
using civilians as human shields.
has rejected the UN report. Instead, to investigate the period 2002-2009, it
set up its own 'Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission', which produced a
report that was released in December 2011.
to UN estimates, 80-100,000 people died in the 30-year conflict.
people are still internally displaced from the first phase of the civil war
(which ended in 1991) and the second phase (which ended in 2009).
Peninsula, Northern Province, is one of the areas most affected by the war with
39,000 war widows and about 12,000 people, mostly men, still missing.