Opposition demands Sri Lankan war crimes probe
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — Sri Lanka’s main opposition party on Thursday demanded the government conduct a domestic investigation into war crimes allegations arising from a quarter-century civil war, saying long inaction has placed the nation “on a razor’s edge of devastating international action.”
The statement from the United National party offered its support for such an inquiry.
Both the Sri Lankan government and the defeated Tamil Tiger rebels have been accused of serious human right violations, mainly in the final months of the war that ended in 2009.
The United States has said it will sponsor a third resolution in the U.N. Human Rights Council in March because Sri Lanka has not shown sufficient progress in ensuring justice and accountability as recommended by a local war commission.
U.S Assistant Secretary of State Nisha Biswal said during a visit earlier this month that international patience is “wearing thin” and calls for an international inquiry may increase. However, contents of the resolution are still unknown.
“Even at this very late hour the UNP calls on the ruling regime to address the serious allegations levelled against it. A mature state does not engage in blanket denial when allegations and aspersions are cast at it,” the statement said.
The party said it asked President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s government to “stop seeing enemies and conspirators” and to listen to the advice of the international community.
The government has said that it has done everything possible to implement recommendations of the war commission and has accused the U.S. of trying to penalize Sri Lanka for defeating a rebel group that waged a decades-long separatist war in the country.
Sri Lanka defeated the Tamil Tiger rebels in 2009 but has since faced increasing questions over the tactics used in the war.
The government has been accused of deliberately shelling civilians, hospitals, blocking food and medicine for civilians trapped in the war zone and deliberately undercounting civilians caught up in fighting. The rebels were accused of using civilians as human shields, killing those who tried to escape their hold and recruiting child soldiers.
A U.N report has said up to 40,000 ethnic Tamil civilians may have been killed in the last months of the war alone and a majority of them died in government attacks.