Sri Lankan Minister to fast ‘until death’ in protest against UN war crime panel

July 8th, 2010 - 11:05 pm ICT by BNO News  

COLOMBO, SRI LANKA (BNO NEWS) – A Minister from Sri Lanka has begun a fast ‘until death’ in front of the United Nations (UN) office in Colombo in protest of the war crimes panel appointed by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Minister Wimal Weerawansa said he is willing to sacrifice his life to protect the soldiers who fought the war against the separatist organization known as the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Three members of parliament from the National Freedom Front were initially fasting in front of the UN office, but they broke off just minutes before Weerawansa began his ’sathyagraha’, which is a nonviolent resistance. He is now alone in his fast.

On Tuesday, hundreds of people were organized to demonstrate outside the UN Colombo office, preventing staff and visitors from leaving the building. Weerawansa led the demonstration and continues to urge the public to participate in the protests all over the island to pressure the UN Secretary General to dissolve the panel.

The Secretary-General on Thursday said he finds it unacceptable that the Sri Lankan authorities ‘have failed’ to prevent the disruption of the normal functioning of the United Nations offices in Colombo.

“In light of the evolving situation, he is recalling the United Nations Resident Coordinator, Mr. Neil Buhne, to New York for consultations,” said Martin Nesirky, a spokesman for Ban. “He has also decided that the UNDP Regional Centre in Colombo will be closed.

Nesirky said Ban has called upon the government of Sri Lanka to ‘live up to its responsibilities’ towards the United Nations as a host country, so as to ensure continuation of the vital work of the Organization to assist the people of Sri Lanka without any further hindrance.

Ban earlier appointed a panel of experts to advise him on the alleged violations of international human rights and humanitarian law during the final stages of the conflict between the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE, which ended last year. It was met by heavy protest from Sri Lankan officials.

The LTTE secessionist campaign, which was founded in 1976, fought for the independence of a state named Tamil Eelam in the north and east of Sri Lanka. It was one of the longest running armed conflicts in Asia, which lasted over 30 years until the defeat of LTTE in May 2009 by the Sri Lankan Military.

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