UN rights council to take up competing resolutions on Sri Lanka war crimes, aid
Sri Lanka will fight a resolution backed by Western nations calling for an inquiry into possible war crimes during the conflict against the Tamil Tigers.
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International human rights groups are dissatisfied with the European resolution because it fails to call for an international war crimes inquiry and instead suggests that Sri Lanka launch internal investigations, reports Agence France-Presse.Skip to next paragraph
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Although the European-led text targeted violations during the conflict and backed investigations, the watchdog group UN Watch dismissed it as "a joke".
"Despite the call by UN rights officials for an international inquiry into possible war crimes, the proposal instead asks Sri Lanka to investigate itself -- it's a joke," said UN Watch's executive director Hillel Neuer….
Advocacy group Human Rights Watch said that the Council needed to examine the creation of an impartial commission of inquiry to investigate allegations of human rights violations committed by both parties as a matter of urgency.
Analysts have said that UN's stance on Sri Lanka remains undecided due to the lack of independent assessments of ground realities. According to The Christian Science Monitor, access to the northeastern war zone remains rare even after the defeat of the Tamil Tigers. The Sri Lankan government has granted only sporadic access to aid workers of the International Committee of the Red Cross to supply food aid and help the injured. Journalists and independent observers, meanwhile, are denied access to the region.
"There's only one thing you can surmise from this," says Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, executive director of the Colombo-based Centre for Policy Alternatives. "The government doesn't want the world to see what happened there – or is currently happening there."...
International observers argue that it needs urgent access to the former battle zone to not just check on civilians left behind but also to provide a safeguard against human rights violations, torture, and arbitrary detention for any remaining Tamil Tiger rebels.
According to the Daily Telegraph, a London-based newspaper, the government has been accused of "ethnic cleansing" in Tamil areas in Sri Lanka's northeast region.
Aid officials, human rights campaigners and politicians claim Tamils have been driven out of areas in the north-east of the country by killings and kidnappings carried out by pro-government militias.
They say the government has simultaneously encouraged members of the Sinhalese majority in the south to relocate to the vacated villages….
[A local campaigner for the families of Tamils who have disappeared] said much of the "ethnic cleansing" was being done in the name of economic development in which Tamil villagers were being moved out to make way for new roads, power plants and irrigation schemes, while Sinhalese workers were being drafted in with incentives including free land and housing.