Top minister demands VOA quit SL after UN vote

A top Lankan minister demanded the shutting down of the Voice of America station in the country which was being used for intelligence gathering.

Colombo: Hitting out at the US for
sponsoring the UNHRC resolution that slammed Sri Lanka for
alleged human rights abuses, a top Lankan minister on Friday
demanded the shutting down of the VOA station in the country
which was being used for "intelligence gathering".

"I demand that we shut down the Voice of America (VOA)
station if the US continued in their action to harass us with
hostile acts," said Minister of Construction Wimal Weerawansa,
who is also the leader of National Freedom Front, a
constituent party of the ruling coalition.

"VOA get out of Sri Lanka. They use this station for
intelligence gathering," he told a rally in the central town
of Kandy.

The Voice of America expanded their operations in Sri
Lanka with the commissioning of a re-broadcasting facility at
the north-western coastal region of Iranawila in 1999.

The NFF leader last week called for the boycott of US
brand names including Coca Cola, Pepsi, McDonalds, KFC, Google
and Gmail but the government later said it was the minister`s
personal view and was not backed by the cabinet.

Slamming the US-sponsored resolution adopted yesterday by
the 47-member UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva, Sri
Lanka said it had countered the cardinal principle of
international law.

With 24 votes for, 15 against and 8 abstentions, the
UNHRC adopted the resolution which noted with concern that
the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC), an
internal inquiry report in Sri Lanka, does not adequately
address "serious allegations" of violations of international
law during the final stages of the ethnic conflict between the
Sri Lankan forces and the LTTE.

The UN resolution seeks to bind Colombo to implement the
recommendations of its own reconciliation commission and to
seek technical assistance from the UN Human Rights
Commissioner to ensure accountability over rights allegations.

It also asked Colombo to present as expeditiously as
possible a comprehensive action plan detailing the steps to
implement the recommendations of LLRC and to address the
alleged violations of international law.

India did not participate in the debate yesterday but
voted for the US-sponsored resolution censuring Sri Lanka
along with countries like Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic,
Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Uruguay and the US.

Many of India`s neighbours, including China, Bangladesh
and Maldives, and Russia, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Indonesia
were among the countries that voted against the resolution


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