Sri Lanka says international war crimes probe would bring 'chaos'

WASHINGTON Mon Jan 27, 2014 9:45pm GMT

Demonstrators from ''Frontline Socialist Party'' hold up boards with a cutout of the human body during a protest against the president Mahinda Rajapaksa's government as they commemorate the International ''Human Rights Day'', in Colombo December 10,2013. REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte

Demonstrators from ''Frontline Socialist Party'' hold up boards with a cutout of the human body during a protest against the president Mahinda Rajapaksa's government as they commemorate the International ''Human Rights Day'', in Colombo December 10,2013.

Credit: Reuters/Dinuka Liyanawatte

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - An international inquiry into war crimes in Sri Lanka would bring "chaos," and the government's national reconciliation process must be given several more years to work, a top aide to Sri Lanka's president said on Monday.

Lalith Weeratunga, in Washington to lobby against calls for such an inquiry, said Sri Lanka needed at least five years from the July 2012 date the government regards as the start of its reconciliation process for the effort to take root.

"After 26 years of conflict ... we want to make it a sustainable peace. It's a very delicate, delicate process. Reconciliation is not a task that can be achieved in a day or two," said Weeratunga, who is secretary to President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Sri Lanka's top civil servant.

The final few months of Sri Lanka's long civil war in 2009 were by far the bloodiest, and both the government and Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) rebels blame each other for the deaths of tens of thousands of mainly Tamil civilians during that period.

The United Nations has called on Sri Lanka to punish those in the military involved in atrocities, and U.S. Embassy officials in Colombo say Washington plans to introduce a resolution calling for an international investigation at the March session of the U.N. Human Rights Council.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said in November he would push for an international inquiry if Sri Lanka did not conclude an independent investigation by March.

U.S. Embassy officials say the United States will demand that the government investigate other abuses as well as alleged war crimes, including lack of progress in reconciliation, abductions of anti-government critics, attacks on churches and mosques and the media, and alleged restrictions on freedom of association and labour union activity.

"HUGE CHAOS"

But Weeratunga rejected the charges and said an international inquiry would only reopen old wounds, as it would require investigation of all those involved in the conflict, including former rebels and Indian peacekeepers as well as the armed forces.

"There would be huge chaos in the country ... armed forces that liberated the country from terrorism would again be put to a judicial test. That is really going to reduce the morale of the army. These are things that need to be considered very carefully," he told Reuters in an interview.

"Why single out Sri Lanka for an international inquiry when ... other countries that have gone through more difficult issues are not be investigated?," he asked.

"If there is an international investigation, the whole period has to be investigated - from the 1980s onward - which includes the two-year tenure of the Indian peacekeeping force, which will upset India, which will upset our relationship with India."

Weeratunga said the government needed more time for its efforts to resolve land disputes, resettle people displaced by war and improve people's livelihoods.

He also said the government was investigating 13,000 cases of missing persons, a task complicated by the unwillingness of countries like Britain to provide information on people thought to be living there.

Ten cases of attacks on churches and mosques were "being dealt with severely," he said, but added it took time to probe cases where there was no evidence as to who carried them out.

(Reporting by David Brunnstrom in Washington and Shihar Aneez in Colombo; editing by Peter Cooney and G Crosse)

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Comments (6)
JONATHAN6 wrote:
Well, another TYPICAL Srilankan tactic to STOP any IMPARTIAL investigation to deny justice to the victims of Srilankan GENOCIDE in 2009 and to continue the Genocide of remaining Tamils, Muslims and Christians as Srilanka resumed atrocities against Muslims and Christians too after the 2009 Genocide of Tamils.
Srilankan politicians are very happy to blame all ills on the so called LTTE terrorists but when world urge investigation, Srilanka always put various hurdles against any investigation because the Srilanka know well that SRILANKAN MILITARY and the so called SECURITY FORCES did the Genocide, do the atrocties and will do the same with 100% IMMUNITY and IMPUNITY if no INTERNATIONAL investigation there to stop the Srilanka doing so. Srilankan CONSTANT RACIST Policy is that THE WHOLE SRILANKA BELONG to ONLY SINHALA BUDDHISTS not other races or FAITHS as the Srilankan constitution itself states that SINHALA LANGUAGE and BUDDHISM as the STATE ONLY LANGUAGE and RELIGION and also Srilankan Politicians and the so called Buddhist CLERGY also echoed several 1000 Times as the WHOLE ISLAND ONLY for SINHALESE and others are JUST TENANTS who cannot demand any rights at all.

Jan 28, 2014 6:23am GMT  --  Report as abuse
JONATHAN6 wrote:
Well, If NO INTERNATIONAL INVESTIGATION, remaining Tamils, Muslims and Christians too will be at the receiving end of Srilankan GENOCIDE in FUTURE.

Jan 28, 2014 7:10am GMT  --  Report as abuse
JONATHAN6 wrote:
One wonder why the SRILANKA so adamant on denying access to any sort of investigation but always VERY HAPPY to blame all wrongs on the LTTE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Jan 28, 2014 7:24am GMT  --  Report as abuse
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