Sri Lanka ‘intimidating’ activists: UN

The UN rights chief has warned against reprisals on Sri Lankan activists, noting "threats and intimidation" carried out by Colombo in the run-up to a contested war crimes probe vote.

The UN Human Rights Council on Thursday adopted to the consternation of Colombo a US-led resolution demanding a probe to violations carried out in Sri Lanka’s battle against Tamil Tigers separatists during their war in 2009.

The run-up to the vote was marked by "an unprecedented and totally unacceptable level of threats, harassment and intimidation directed at Sri Lankan activists who had travelled to Geneva to engage in the debate, including by members of the 71-member official Sri Lankan government delegation," said Navi Pillay.

"There must be no reprisals against Sri Lankan human rights defenders in the aftermath of yesterday’s adoption by the Human Rights Council of a resolution on Sri Lanka," said the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

In Sri Lanka, media outlets have also been running a "continuous campaign of vilification, including naming and in many cases picturing activists, describing them as an ‘NGO gang’ and repeatedly accusing them of treason, mercenary activities and association with terrorism," said Pillay.

"Some of these reports have contained barely veiled incitement and threats of retaliation," she added.

Some were carried by state media outlets or filed by journalists accredited to the Human Rights Council session through the Sri Lankan mission, noted the UN rights chief.

In one example, a video clip carried on website showed a member of parliament Mervyn Silva accusing three activists of giving evidence against Sri Lanka at the council.

"If you get caught by me in Sri Lanka, I will break your limbs in public," he warned the three in the clip.

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