Sri Lankan Government Retaliates Before UN War Crimes Report

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On Tuesday, April 12th, a panel of experts presented the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon with a report on whether the Sri Lankan government committed war crimes when the nation's army won a long-running civil war against Tamil Tiger rebels in early 2009. Although the report has not yet been made public, the government is furious about the inquiry and says it is "fundamentally flawed" and biased. They are hoping to discredit the report by proving that their opponents are conspiring with the West and the Tamil diaspora. The government seems to be banking on the idea that if citizens as well as journalists are worried about a crackdown, they'll be less likely to complain.

In recent weeks Sri Lanka's rulers have vented their anger, most obviously by cracking down at home, intimidating those they blame for spurring the launch of the UN inquiry in the first place. At the sharp end are Western-funded education and advocacy groups, notably those keen on post-war reconciliation or those that point out flaws in the government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Facing the most intense scrutiny are groups which have complained about repression, a muzzled press and a lack of civil liberties.

Top of the list is the National Peace Council, which pushed for a negotiated rather than a violent end to the war. Last month criminal investigators summoned its director, Jehan Perera, demanding details of the group's funding and operations. Before that, a smear campaign in the press suggested the council takes orders from foreign donors. No specific crime has been alleged, making it harder for the council to clear its name.

Read the full story at the Economist.

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Miriam Krule writes for and produces The Atlantic's International channel.

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