Causing serious embarrassment to the government, hundreds of political workers led by a senior Minister on Tuesday clashed with police here as they attempted to lay siege to the U.N. office in protest against the recent decision of U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to appoint a three-member panel to advise him on Sri Lanka.
The protest led by leader of the National Freedom Front (NFF) and Engineering Services and Construction Minister Wimal Weerawansa took an ugly turn as his supporters attempted to barge into the U.N. compound. A few persons including police officials were injured.
The government has taken exception to the appointment of the panel by Mr. Ban on accountability issues including the charges of human rights violations in the last phase of the war between the security forces and the LTTE which ended in May last.
Mr. Weerawansa is the leader of a breakaway faction of the ultra-nationalist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP). The government had disassociated itself from his move.
The demonstrators shouted “Hands off U.N.!” As the police swung into action, the Minister threatened to launch a fast unto death till the police are withdrawn from the scene.
Foreign Secretary Romesh Jayasinghe rushed to the scene and secured an assurance from the protesters that the movement of the U.N. staff would not be hindered. Later he sought a meeting with U.N.'s Resident Coordinator, Neil Buhne.
The Minister's supporters continue to sit on fast unto death outside the U.N. office at the time of filing of this report.
In the last few weeks, Sri Lanka has come under renewed pressure from outside for an “independent impartial international probe” into the alleged excesses in the last phase of the war.
The government insists that a Commission on Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation constituted by the President in May this year would look into all issues of concern on the war and there was no need for an outside investigation.