Protest at UN office in Lanka against rights probe panel

Hundreds of Sri Lankan activists led by a Cabinet minister on Tuesday protested at the UN office here against a world body panel set up to probe allegations of human rights abuses during the LTTE war.

Last Updated: Jul 06, 2010, 16:07 PM IST

Colombo: Hundreds of Sri Lankan activists led
by a Cabinet minister on Tuesday protested at the UN office here
against a world body panel set up to probe allegations of
human rights abuses during the LTTE war, a day after detained
ex-army chief Sarath Fonseka asked the government to face it
with courage.

Housing Minister Wimal Weerawansa, shouting slogans along
with other protesters, demanded withdrawal of the advisory
panel by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
He said his party, the National Freedom Front (NFF),
fears that the appointment of the panel could be a precursor
for the establishment of an international war tribunal to
investigate the alleged offences.

The NFF is a constituent of the ruling United People`s
Freedom Alliance (UPFA) coalition headed by President Mahinda
Rajapaksa.

The operation against the LTTE, which was defeated in May
last year, was initiated purely on the people`s demand under
the direction of President Mahinda Rajapaksa to release
innocent Tamil civilians in the North and East, Weerawansa
said.

He said if the UN tries to have a postmortem to find the
facts in favour of the LTTE, then people should stand up
against the world body decision as well.

Weerawansa also criticised Fonseka`s alleged inclination
to give evidence before the panel.
Fonseka, an opposition MP from DNA, told Parliament
yesterday that the war against LTTE was carried out in line
with international conventions and covenants.

The former General, who led the security forces in
eliminating the LTTE, said that as the then Army Commander he
was prepared to uphold the reputation of the military.

He said he was not afraid of any experts` panel appointed
by the UN chief to advise him on allegations of human rights
violations during the war, "as the then Army Commander I can
candidly say the war was waged in line with international
covenants and conventions. I fully support the military in
this case."

He said Sri Lanka should not be afraid to face any such
panel, the Daily Mirror reported.

On the alleged illegal arms deal during his tenure as the
army chief, Fonseka said his son-in-law Danuna Tillakaratne,
who headed the firm that was awarded the contract during the
last phase of the LTTE war, would surrender to court on
conditions.

"It would only be if and when the rule of law is upheld
here and the government stops hounding members of his family,"
the newspaper quoted Fonseka, who is facing a court-martial on
the issue, as saying.
Fonseka, who is also being court-martialled on charges
that he indulged in politics while in uniform, said this in
response to remarks by Weerawansa, who asked the retired
General to persuade his son-in-law to surrender to the court.

Fonseka also said no father-in-law was under obligation
to hand over his son-in-law to courts, the newspaper said.

PTI