[lg policy] Sri Lankan Leader Rejects U.N. Plan to Study Abuses

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Sun Mar 7 22:02:42 UTC 2010

March 6, 2010
Sri Lankan Leader Rejects U.N. Plan to Study Abuses

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — Sri Lanka’s president has rejected a United
Nations plan to appoint a panel of experts to look into allegations of
human rights abuses in the nation’s civil war, a statement from the
president’s office said Saturday. In a phone conversation on Friday
evening, President Mahinda Rajapaksa told the United Nations secretary
general, Ban Ki-moon, that such a step was “totally uncalled for and
unwarranted,” the statement said.

In New York, Mr. Ban’s spokesman, Martin Nesirky, confirmed that the
secretary general had told Mr. Rajapaksa he intended to form a panel
to “advise him on the way forward on accountability issues related to
Sri Lanka.” Sri Lanka has faced growing international criticism for
not examining allegations of abuses, including remarks on Thursday by
the top United Nations human rights official, Navi Pillay.

Tens of thousands of combatants and civilians died in the war. The
United Nations has reported that more than 7,000 civilians were killed
in the final fighting against the Tamil Tigers last year as government
forces closed in and crushed the rebellion. Human rights groups and
some countries have called for war crime inquiries. The government has
been accused of firing heavy weapons into civilian areas, and the
Tamil rebels have been accused of holding civilians as human shields
and shooting those who tried to flee. Both sides have denied the

Mr. Rajapaksa’s statement said the allegations of rights abuses were
“misrepresentations” by supporters of the Tamil Tigers and private
groups working against Sri Lanka.  The appointment of a United Nations
panel would “certainly be perceived as an interference with the
current general election campaign,” the statement said, adding that
Sri Lanka would take “necessary and appropriate action” — without
specifying what that would be.

Mr. Rajapaksa, who won a second term as president by a big margin in
January, has called parliamentary elections on April 8, hoping to
tighten his grip on power further by securing a majority in the

Since his re-election, Mr. Rajapaksa’s government has arrested a rival
for the presidency — his former army chief, Gen. Sarath Fonseka — on
accusations of sedition. General Fonseka led the victorious military
offensive again Tamil rebels.

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