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Tamil lawmakers want UN pressure on Sri Lanka

Colombo has not shown a genuine interest in sharing power with the ethnic minority, Sampanthan says

Gulf News

Colombo Ethnic Tamil lawmakers in Sri Lanka asked the UN Human Rights Council Thursday to press the government to investigate alleged wartime abuses and share power with the ethnic minority to prevent the country from sliding back into violence.

Sri Lanka's civil war ended in 2009 when government troops crushed separatist Tamil Tiger rebels. Both sides have been accused of committing war crimes during the final stages of the conflict.

The US is planning to bring a resolution before the UN rights council, currently meeting in Geneva, urging Sri Lanka's government to investigate those allegations and seek reconciliation. The ethnic Sinhalese-dominated government has arranged protests across the country against the resolution, which it calls interference in Sri Lanka's affairs.

Yesterday, more than 10,000 people marched in the capital to denounce the proposed resolution. Smaller groups met with UN, British, Norwegian and German officials at embassies to urge them not to support it.

However, a group of ethnic Tamil lawmakers said they support the resolution.

Rajavarothayam Sampanthan, leader of the Tamil National Alliance, said Colombo has not shown a genuine interest in sharing power, a long-standing demand of ethnic minority Tamils, despite promises made to the UN and other nations.

Sampanthan accused the military of continuing to run ethnic Tamil-majority areas since the end of the war, and of bringing ethnic Sinhalese settlers into the former war zones to alter the demographics.

"As the opportunities for postwar peace and reconciliation in Sri Lanka gradually slip away, the members of the UNHRC must act urgently to prevent an ominous slide towards a recurrence of the tragedies of the past," Sampanthan said in a statement yesterday.