Lanka leader U-turns on war crimes probe | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, March 07, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:38 AM, March 07, 2019

Lanka leader U-turns on war crimes probe

Sri Lanka's president yesterday went back on pledges to investigate war-time atrocities, saying he did not want to "re-open old wounds" but sparked a rift with his cohabitation government.

Sri Lankan government troops were accused of killing at least 40,000 ethnic Tamil civilians in the final months of the island's 37-year guerrilla war that ended in May 2009.

President Maithripala Sirisena said he will formally ask the United Nations Human Rights Council to reconsider a 2015 resolution which called for credible investigations into alleged atrocities.

"It is a decade since we have established peace in this country," Sirisena told reporters at his official residence in Colombo. "I want to tell them (the UN) not to pressure us."

"What I want to tell them is don't dig the past and re-open old wounds. Let us forget the past and ensure that we all live in peace."

Within hours of his remarks, Sirisena's cohabitation government sought to distance itself from his stance and said the administration of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe will remain engaged with the UN on war crimes.

The foreign ministry, which is under the prime minister, said it will back a resolution at the UN Human Rights Council on March 20 seeking a further two-year extension for Sri Lanka to deliver on promises of accountability.

"A further extension of two years through a co-sponsored roll-over resolution accordingly needs to be viewed in this backdrop," the foreign ministry said in a statement.

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