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UN warns against Sri Lankan activist attacks

world Updated: Mar 23, 2012 20:12 IST

The UN rights chief warned today against reprisals against Sri Lankan activists, noting "threats and intimidation" carried out by Colombo in the run-up to a contested war crimes probe vote.

The UN human rights council yesterday adopted to the consternation of Colombo a US-led resolution demanding a probe to violations carried out in Sri Lanka's battle against Tamil Tigers separatists during their war in 2009.

The run-up to the vote was marked by "an unprecedented and totally unacceptable level of threats, harassment and intimidation directed at Sri Lankan activists who had travelled to Geneva to engage in the debate, including by members of the 71-member official Sri Lankan government delegation," said Pillay.

In Sri Lanka, media outlets have also been running a "continuous campaign of vilification, including naming and in many cases picturing activists, describing them as an 'NGO gang' and repeatedly accusing them of treason, mercenary activities and association with terrorism," said Pillay.

"Some of these reports have contained barely veiled incitement and threats of retaliation," she added.

Some of these reports were carried by state media outlets or filed by journalists accredited to the human rights council session through the Sri Lankan mission, noted the UN rights chief.

"There must be no reprisals against Sri Lankan human rights defenders in the aftermath of yesterday's adoption by the human rights council of a resolution on Sri Lanka," she added.

Meanwhile, the Sri Lankan envoy to Geneva himself also received an anonymous letter which UN security and the police are investigating, she said.