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Sri Lankan anger over US move at UN rights council

[AFP, Thursday, 23 February 2012 13:13 No Comment]

Sri Lanka on Thursday vowed to hold mass protests against US-backed moves at the United Nations to press for an independent probe into alleged war crimes during the island’s civil war.

Government spokesman Susil Premajayantha said rallies would be organised across Sri Lanka to display opposition to the planned proposal at next week’s Human Rights Council sessions in Geneva.

Interned civilians after the end of Sri Lanka's civil war (AFP File, Ishara S. Kodikara)

Interned civilians after the end of Sri Lanka’s civil war (AFP/File, Ishara S. Kodikara)

"We will organise demonstrations to show that the people of this country are with the government. They are against the Western forces," Premajayantha told reporters.

He said the US was leading moves to bring a resolution against Sri Lanka at the UN council, but Colombo was confident of being able to block it.

"We have lobbied member countries and the feedback that we have is very positive," he said. "We will be able to block any resolution against us."

Human rights groups say up to 40,000 civilians perished in the final months of the government’s military campaign to crush the Tamil Tigers in 2009, but Colombo maintains no civilians were killed by its troops.

Last week, the US made it clear that it would support moves against Sri Lanka in Geneva.

Sri Lanka has avoided censure at previous meetings thanks to backing from Russia and China. India, the island’s closest neighbour, has also supported Colombo in fending off censure.

The military last week announced appointing a five-member panel to probe allegations of excesses — an apparent change in the government’s approach to charges of war crimes.

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