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Mass protests, diplomacy to counter UN report

President Mahinda Rajapaksa has called for mass protests against a United Nations (UN) report that has urged an international probe into war crimes allegedly committed during the civil war against separatist Tamil Tiger rebels.

world Updated: Apr 17, 2011 18:33 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis

President Mahinda Rajapaksa has called for mass protests against a United Nations (UN) report that has urged an international probe into war crimes allegedly committed during the civil war against separatist Tamil Tiger rebels.

Rajapaksa has asked members of his Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) turn the coming 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 said on Saturday. According to AFP, an audio tape of the speech was released by his office

Parts of the report, submitted to UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon on April 12, were leaked to a local English newspaper on Saturday.

The report has come down heavily on the Rajapaksa regime. “The Government systematically shelled hospitals on the frontlines. All hospitals in the Vanni were hit by mortars and artillery, some of them were hit repeatedly, despite the fact that their locations were well-known to the Government. The Government also systematically deprived people in the conflict zone of humanitarian aid,’’ it said in its serious indictment of the government.

Rajapaksa said allegations of war crimes, contained in a UN expert panel report, 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 said.

Mass demonstrations are not the only forms of protest to be taken up by the government. The Sunday Times newspaper quoted the powerful defence secretary, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa as having said delegations will be send to various countries including India to explain to government why Sri Lanka had no option but use to defeat the LTTE.

In its conclusion, the report said it found ``credible allegations’’ in five core sectors including killing of civilians through widespread shelling, shelling of hospitals and humanitarian objects and human rights violations outside the conflict zone, including against the media and other critics of the Government

Against the LTTE, there were credible allegations that they used civilians as human buffer, killing civilians attempting to flee their control and killing of civilians through suicide attacks.