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UN chief warns Sri Lanka against ‘triumphalism’

[AFP, Saturday, 6 June 2009 08:34 No Comment]

bankimoon7 UN chief Ban Ki-moon on Friday warned the Sri Lankan government against "triumphalism" after its recent defeat of the Tamil separatist insurgency and urged it to "heal the wounds" of the bitter conflict.

"I would like to take this opportunity to warn against the risk of triumphalism in the wake of victory," Ban told reporters after he briefed the 15-member Security Council on his visit to ethnically divided Sri Lanka last month.

"It is very important at this time to unite and heal the wounds, rather than enjoy all this triumphalism," he added, after the Sri Lankan army last month crushed the 30-year-old separatist rebellion by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)."

Ban reiterated that the purpose of his visit was to press for unimpeded humanitarian assistance to the more than 300,000 Tamil civilians displaced by the fighting and for their speedy resettlement,

But he stressed that for the longer term the priority was to help the Sri Lankan government reach out to minority Tamils and Muslims.

Tamils make up 12.6 percent of the 20 million population of the Sinhalese-majority island but have long complained of discrimination and restriction of movement.

Ban said he had been told by Colombo that "conditions have improved since my visit and restrictions have been eased."

But he also said that the "challenges still remain huge" and "this requires international assistance."

The UN boss also called on Colombo to "recognize international calls for accountability and transparency."

"Whenever and wherever there are credible allegations of violations of humanitarian law, there should be a proper investigation," he noted.

Earlier Friday, Amnesty International urged the Security Council to probe war crimes allegations against Sri Lanka.

The London-based rights watchdog said the Security Council should also demand full humanitarian access to state-run camps where the 300,000 people who fled Sri Lanka’s war zone are being held.

Earlier this week, Ban rejected charges that the UN had deliberately underestimated the death toll in the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka.

Press reports cited confidential UN estimates that more than 20,000 civilians were killed by Sri Lankan army shelling.

The Amnesty statement also cited reports of young men being taken away from the displacement camps by pro-government paramilitary forces and said they risked being tortured or even killed.

Among those detained by the military are six foreign nationals of Sri Lankan origin and three doctors who worked inside the war zone and provided information about civilian casualties.

[Full Coverage]

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