Thousands of government supporters marched on foreign embassies yesterday to call on Western countries not to table a planned resolution critical of the country at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva.
Around 15,000 people marched to the US, Norwegian and German embassies, as well as the British high commission in Colombo to hand over petitions urging the resolution on alleged rights abuses committed during the country’s civil war be dropped.
The resolution is scheduled to be debated on March 22.
The protesters condemned what they called interference from the US and other foreign powers in Sri Lanka’s internal affairs and accused the international community of trying to tarnish the country’s image at the UN meeting.
Among the marchers were the leaders of the Inter Religious Alliance for National Unity (IANU), who accused the US and international community of trying to tarnish the image of Sri Lanka.
“They have intervened in the internal affairs of other countries such as Libya, Afghanistan and Iraq and violated their human rights,” said its co-chairman Reverend Sarath Hettiarachchi.
The Methodist minister called on the government to align itself with anti-US countries to give Sri Lanka a stronger voice against its detractors.
“We will continue our struggle until we defeat human rights violations against our motherland,” he said, condemning a British television documentary aired this week on the deaths of Tamil Tiger leaders and alleged bomb attacks carried out against hospitals in rebel-held areas.
Another IANU co-chairman struck a more conciliatory tone.
“We are at peace now so we call on the diplomatic community to come forward and help Sri Lanka,” said Venerable Kamburugamuwe Vajira Thero, a Buddhist monk.
He said the government must be given the opportunity to complete its reconciliation process and appealed to the US to give meaningful assistance to Sri Lanka.