A large crowd of Sri Lankan citizens gathered this afternoon outside the United Nations office (Bauddhaloka Mawatha, Colombo) to protest the panel set up to advise Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon on possible violations of human rights and humanitarian law during the end of the war against the LTTE.
Led by the National Freedom Front and its vociferous leader Wimal Weerawansa, the citizens protest what they see as ‘meddling’ by the United Nations, saying that the peace and stability achieved by the President Mahinda Rajapaksa after 30 years of separatist war, should be allowed to take hold.
‘We dont want another war’, Geetha Edirisinghe with her family from Nugegoda, told the Leader outside the UN office. ‘All this panel will do is arouse issues that have already been dealt with by our President. This will just lead to another war and more issues and separation between our people, we don’t want that’.
Wasantha Udayasinghe from Kollonnawa, echoed her sentiments. He remembered how doing during the war, parents would travel seperately on public transport in order to ensure that one of them survives, should they come under LTTE attack, saying ‘ we want no more of it, we want the peace our President has restored to us.’
‘This is only the beginning’, Sugath Kumara from Kalutara said. ‘We have not been paid to come here, we are here of our own free will, protesting the UN’s interference into our affairs. We have set an example to other nations by eliminating terrorist, and by setting up this panel, what the UN is saying, is that they don’t really believe it.
The thronging crowd did not seem out to cause trouble, stating categorically, whenever asked, that they were there only to ‘protest peacefully’. Police presence in and around the area was minimal, especially when compared to the planned protest by the medical students two weeks ago, that saw a large body of policemen in force.
Meanwhile, former parlimentarian and politburo member of the NFF Piyasiri Wijenayake told the Leader that the protest would ‘continue until the Panel was withdrawn’. Sitting on a platform under a makeshift tent outside the UN office, Wijenayake said that their point was simple.
‘We are standing, togther with the citizens of this country against the unlawful move made by the UN in setting up a panel to look into Sri Lankan affairs. This is a direct attack against our President Mahinda Rajapakse and the armed forces that worked so hard to eliminate the threat of terrorism in the country.’
On behalf of all of our citizens, our armed forces and our president, we ask that Ban Ki Moon withdraw this panel. and until he does so, we shall continue protesting’.