03/22/2012, 00.00
SRI LANKA
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UNHRC resolution on Sri Lanka war crimes approved

by Melani Manel Perera
The motion is adopted with 24 votes in favour, 15 against and 8 abstentions. Across the country, thousands of Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims and Christians protest against the decision. Interfaith activities are planned to back the government.

Colombo (AsiaNews) - The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) approved a US-backed resolution on war crimes committed by Sri Lankan soldiers in 2009. The vote was 24 in favour (including India), 15 against and 8 abstentions. In Sri Lanka, the vote was met with protests by thousands of Buddhist monks but also Hindus, Muslims and Christians. The Sri Lankan government has always rejected UN claims that its forces violated human rights, calling them an attempt by Western nations to interfere in the country's domestic affairs.

The resolution specifically calls on Sri Lankan authorities to improve the recommendations contained in the report written by the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC), which President Mahinda Rajapaksa set up to investigate the final stages of the civil war. For its part, the UNHRC motion calls on Sri Lanka to take the necessary steps to ensure justice, equality and reconciliation for all Sri Lankans.

In its own report, the LLRC calls for more in-depth investigations into alleged extrajudicial killings and disappearances, the demilitarisation of the north, better conflict-resolution mechanisms in territorial disputes, devolution of power to the provinces, strengthening independent civil institutions, as well as promoting and protecting freedom of expression.

Given the lack of actual measures three years since the end of the civil war, the UNHRC has urged the government of Sri Lanka to accept its advice and technical assistance to improve the LLRC recommendations.

The Tamil National Alliance (TNA), the country's main Tamil party, said it welcomes the resolution. However, not everyone in the country is happy about it. Sinhalese but also Tamils from every religious background have taken to the streets in recent days to protest against it.

Many Catholic communities have also held special liturgies in connection with the protest. In some cases, police and local authorities attended their services, which ended in prayers calling for God's blessing, an end to current disputes and a solution to the nation's problems.

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