Lankan minister ends fast; UN war crimes panel remains | world | Hindustan Times
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Lankan minister ends fast; UN war crimes panel remains

world Updated: Jul 10, 2010 19:26 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times

Striking minister Wimal Weerwansa broke his "fast unto death" on Saturday after President Mahinda Rajapaksa visited him, possibly ending four days of raucous anti-United Nations protests he was leading in front of the world body’s compound in Colombo.

Weerawansa was demanding the dissolution of the three-member panel set up by UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon to advise him on war crimes allegations at the end of the 26-year-long civil war in Sri Lanka.

Reports said Rajapaksa on Saturday afternoon offered water to Weerawansa, which the minister accepted before being whisked away in an ambulance to a hospital.

Ban Ki-moon, however, has so far not given any indication of dissolving the advisory panel. Instead, the angry secretary general recalled the UN’s Lanka envoy to New York for consultation and hastened the closure of the UNDP regional office in Colombo as a mark of protest.

The end of Weerawansa’s hunger strike was preceded by strong statements of disapproval from the US, the EU and a host of other European nations on the way the anti-UN protests were carried out

"The United States is deeply dismayed by the harassment and intimidation of UN personnel and we urge the government of Sri Lanka to meet its obligations under the Convention on the Safety of United Nations and Associated personnel," the state Department spokesman Mark Toner told a news agency on the latest development in Sri Lanka. "Peaceful protest is part of any democracy, but blocking access to the United Nations --- of which Sri Lanka itself is a member --- as well as intimidating and harassing UN personnel is a breach of international norms and harmful to Sri Lanka's reputation in the world," a joint statement from the Lankan heads of missions of Germany, UK, France and Norway among others said.