Sinhalese Buddhist monks on Monday protested the UN rights chief's fact-finding mission to the country over concerns about alleged war crimes by the Sri Lankan military during the nearly three-decade-long conflict with the LTTE.
Monks belonging to Ravana Balaya Buddhist, a Sinhalese Buddhist nationalist group, staged a noisy demonstration outside UN offices in Colombo, accusing the international community of falsely accusing Colombo of war crimes in 2009 during the final months of the military conflict with the Tamil rebels. They were, however, halted by the police while trying to move towards the United Nations compound as the UN Human Rights Commissioner Navy Pillay was having her day one engagements of her week-long visit to the country.
Pillay travelled to the Supreme Courts complex in central Colombo to meet with the Chief Justice Mohan Peiris, Attorney General Palitha Fernando and the Justice Minister Rauff Hakeem. Ravana Balaya monks, who started their protest walk to the UN compound, came to engage a blockade by the police as they attempted to walk nearer to the UN gate at Baudhaloka Mawatha in the high security zone in Colombo. "Let us condemn Pillai's anti-Sri Lankan visit", a banner read.
"We will not hesitate to muster the protest of the entire citizenry against the UN if attempts are made to fabricate diabolical lies against Sri Lanka," the activists said in a petition. Ittakande Sadhdhatiss, who was leading the monks, accused the police of taking the side of anti-Sri Lankan forces in the West. "We tell the police this is our country. Our robes are more powerful than police uniforms. If anything bad happens to this country after Pillay's visit, they must take responsibility", he said.
Pillay arrived in Colombo on Sunday on a week-long visit to begin a fact-finding mission on the alleged war crimes by the military during the nearly three-decade-long conflict with the LTTE. Her visit is being opposed by nationalist groups who are also unhappy with the government for allowing her into the country.