04/20/2011, 00.00
SRI LANKA
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Authorities reject UN war crime accusations

by Melani Manel Perera
The UN report speaks about civilian killings, failure to provide assistance and human rights violations. A government minister says the report’s “evidence is weak and not appropriate”. For the opposition, the document provides “irrefutable confirmation” of the crimes. Religious leaders from the Inter-Religious Alliance for National Unity (IRANU) express solidarity with President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
Colombo (AsiaNews) – The government of Sri Lanka has firmly rejected a United Nations report that blames it for war crimes committed during the final phase of the 30-year-old interethnic conflict, which ended in 2009. This morning, the Inter Religious Alliance for National Unity (IRANU) slammed the UN report prepared for United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. By contrast, Sri Lanka’s main Tamil organisation, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), hailed the study, saying it provided “irrefutable confirmation” of the atrocities committed by the government and the military.

According to the UN document, “tens of thousands of people died” between January and May 2009 at the hands of the armed forces. Likewise, it accuses the rebels of violations as well, including intentionally using civilians as human shields.

Sri Lankan Foreign Minister G.L. Peiris, currently on an official visit to Bangladesh, said, “the evidence is weak and not appropriate”.

Similarly, IRANU’s Buddhist, Methodist, Muslim and Hindu representatives called on Sri Lankans, at home and abroad, to show solidarity and gratitude towards President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who “defeated terrorism and brought victory and peace to our motherland.”

“We don’t need a post-mortem analysis, but healing for our wounds,” said IRANU’s co-chair and Methodist priest, Rev Sarath Hettiarachchi.

For Mawlawi Sayadh Hasan, Sri Lanka is at the centre of a “broad conspiracy” to prevent it from become “one of the wonders of Asia”.

“If Ban Ki-moon and the UN want to put President Rajapaksa on the electric chair, they have to put all of us religious first,” said the Venerable Galagama Dhammaransi Thero. “We shall always protect and bless this courageous leader.”

For its part, the TNA has called on the Sri Lankan government not to miss this opportunity to build democracy in the country, one that is based on equality and justice, for the benefit of all the people.

In fact, some Sri Lankans, both Tamil and Sinhalese, are saying that the war is not yet over, that all sorts of crimes are still being committed and will be committed and that the government is not interested in doing anything about it.

According to the UN report commissioned by Ban Ki-moon, the government and the military are guilty of killing civilians in indiscriminate air strikes, bombing hospitals and humanitarian facilities as well as denying medical care to those in need. Sri Lankan authorities are also accused of violating the human rights of war victims and survivors, including internally displaced people and alleged members of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

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