Sri Lanka president talks tough, vows war probe
ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s President Maithripala Sirisena warned political opponents that he will press ahead with a UN-mandated war crimes investigation despite their protests.
His hard hitting speech was wrapped up with another sign of defiance against radical ultra nationalists. The 68th independence anniversary celebrations were rounded off with the national anthem being sung in Tamil, the language of the country’s largest minority.
Hard-line nationalists such as Wimal Weerawansa and Udaya Gammanpila had threatened dire consequences, some even threatening to commit suicide, if the anthem was sung in Tamil.
Ignoring all such threats, the Tamil version was sung by school children for the first time in 67 years at a main national event.
President Sirisena said he will comnply with the UN Human Rights Council Resolution in order to protect the unity, sovereignty and integrity of the nation as well as to salvage the dignity of the nation.
He insisted that Sri Lanka must fall in line with the UN resolution and face up to war crimes investigations to protect the reputation and ensure that the country’s armed forces and to be accepted as a respected member of the international community.
His speech was in sharp contrast to his recent comments to both the BBC and Al Jazeera television networks when he sought to question the need for investigations.
Sirisena had taken flack over the remarks attributed to him, but his address to the nation on Independence Day showed a strong support to implement UN Human Rights Council resolution on war crimes.
His remarks came days before UN rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein was due in Colombo. The UNHRC is due to review Sri Lanka’s case at March sessions in Geneva.
"Political opponents try to give a misleading interpretation to the (UN) resolution," Sirisena said.
"By enforcing the resolution we strengthen democracy, unity and reconciliation. By implementing the resolution we safeguard the dignity of the nation, the people and the armed forces and to be accepted as a respected member of the international community."
Sirisena’s new government has pledged special war crimes courts this year to investigate allegations that troops killed at least 40,000 Tamil civilians in the final months of the war. (COLOMBO, Feb 4, 2016)