COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — Sri Lanka on Sunday reacted sharply to a move by the United States to sponsor a third resolution at the United Nations human rights body criticizing its post-war reconciliation, saying it could polarize the island nation.
Sri Lanka has faced questions over the tactics it used to defeat Tamil rebels in 2009 to its 25-year civil war. Government troops have been accused of targeting civilians and hospitals, blocking food and medicine for civilians and deliberately under-countering civilians trapped in the war zone.
The rebels, meanwhile, were accused of using civilians as human shields, killing those who tried to escape and recruiting child soldiers.
According to a U.N. report, some 40,000 ethnic Tamil civilians may have been killed in just the final months of the fighting.
The U.S has sponsored two resolutions calling on the Sri Lankan government to initiate an inquiry into allegations of war crimes. But after a visit to Sri Lanka last week, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Nisha Biswal told reporters Saturday that the international community’s patience is “wearing thin” due to the country’s lack of progress to ensure justice, accountability and reconciliation.
She also informed authorities of her government’s intentions to sponsor a resolution at the Human Rights Council’s March session.
Sri Lanka’s External Affairs Ministry responded by condemning the “reckless and irresponsible statements without evidence,” and that the U.S. had failed to recognize the “substantial progress in addressing the challenges during the brief span of 4 1/2 years since the end of an armed conflict of 30 years.”
It said the U.S.-sponsored resolution “only serves to polarize the communities” affected by the war.
In November, British Prime Minister David Cameron said he would call for a U.N.-backed investigation into allegations of war crimes unless there was progress on postwar reconciliation by March.