Sri Lanka President calls for country to unite against the UN report

Apr 17, Colombo: The Sri Lankan government plans to launch major diplomatic effort against the report of the United Nations’ Panel of Experts handed over last week to the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

The report prepared by the three-member panel holds the Sri Lankan government and its security forces as well as the Tamil Tiger Terrorist group, Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) responsible for thousands of civilian deaths and massive violations of human rights and humanitarian laws during the final phase of the war against the terrorists that ended in May 2009.

The government rejected the UN report saying that it is ‘flawed and biased’. It said a formal response will be released when the country’s External Affairs Minister Prof. G. L. Peiris returns to the island this week following an overseas tour.

An AFP report said today that President Mahinda Rajapaksa has called for mass protests against UN report to show solidarity for the country’s armed forces.

Reportedly Rajapaksa has asked members of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) to turn the upcoming May Day rally in Colombo into a “show of strength” against the report.

“All these days we did not demonstrate our strength, but now on May Day we will show our strength,” Rajapaksa has said on Saturday. According to AFP, an audio tape of the speech was released by his office.

Several opposition parliamentarians have expressed support to the government’s stance against the UN report.

Moneragala District MP Ranjith Madduma Bandara has said that everyone should think and act as one nation and safeguard the country.

“As citizens of this country it is necessary for us to stand by our countrys pride and our forces if any international intervention is trying to act against it,” he has said.

Matara District MP Buddhika Pathirana has said that Sri Lanka is an independent and sovereign State.

“We hail our pride as an independent state. If any international intervention disregards this we need to stand by our country and our forces,” Pathirana has said.

Meanwhile Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa told the Sunday Times that the government would take the report “seriously” and send teams to friendly countries and other Non-Aligned countries including those in Africa and Latin America to explain why Sri Lanka had no option but to use military force to liquidate the LTTE’s military capabilities.

The UN Chief appointed the Panel last May to investigate allegations of violating humanitarian law by the government security forces and the rebels during the successful military offensive in 2009 that completely eliminated the LTTE from Sri Lanka.

The Panel has found credible allegations, “which if proven, indicate that a wide range of serious violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law were committed both by the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE, some of which would amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.”

The Panel of Experts had recommended the Secretary-General to “immediately proceed to establish an independent international mechanism” that is mandated by several functions defined by the Panel.

President Rajapaksa has said the allegations of war crimes by the Panel were not new but that there were increasing suggestions that those who led the military campaign should be taken before a war crimes tribunal.

“On behalf of the country, if they ask me to sit on the electric chair, I will happily do it,” the President has said.

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