Politics & Current Affairs

Sri Lanka president reaches for Trump in bid to avoid war crimes probe (video)

Sri Lanka president promised party loyalists that he will garner the support of Donald Trump to stop the country’s soldiers and commanders from facing a war crimes probe, while Tamil masses in the war ravaged north were observing a period of mourning for the war dead.

Addressing party activists on Saturday (26) in the southern town of Sinhala majority Galle, President Maithripala Sirisena revealed that he has already started negotiations with US President-elect Trump seeking help to avoid honouring a UN resolution that calls for an investigation into serious human rights violations in the last leg of the civil war.

"A few days ago, I have a sent a special message to him requesting his support for us," President Sirisena informed Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) stalwarts gearing for the fast approaching local government elections.

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Split in party

The 'Trump appeal' by the  president comes in the wake of launching a new political party by seniors within the SLFP loyal to deposed President Mahinda Rajapaksa who commands a significant following in the Sinhala electorate and the armed forces.

A divided SLFP will be a setback to Maithripala Sirisena in future elections.

President Sirisena who is in a coalition with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe's United National Party (UNP), told his supporters that he will discuss the already 'weakened' UN resolution with Donald Trump.

He assured that politicians who have command responsibility in the war will be safe.

Joint military exercices

"I have released the burden that weighed down  the war heroes, the politicians and all those who fought a national liberation struggle to free this country," said President Sirisena.

The comments were made at a time when the U.S. Marines of the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit embarked aboard amphibious transport dock USS Somerset, concluded a joint exercise with Sri Lanka Navy's Marine Forces at the Special Boat Squadron Headquarters at the Naval Dockyard, Trincomalee.

The Theater Security Cooperation (TSC) exchange "includes basic defensive tactics, combat life-saving skills, explosive ordnance disposal, aircraft familiarization, small boat and convoy operations, and small unit leadership classes,"revealed the US Navy website.

Tamils seeking justice

Meanwhile, Tamil war victims held remembrance events on Sunday (27) across the north and east of the country calling for justice for their loved ones killed in war. Thousands gathered at the sites of destroyed LTTE cemeteries to mourn the fallen Tamil fighters.

In the aftermath of final war, at least 25 war cemeteries consisting of approximately 20,400 tomb stones were razed to the ground by the Sri Lankan military occupying the Tamil majority North-East. 

Following three resolutions at the UN Human Rights Council between 2012 to 2014, the Obama administration in 2015 co-sponsored a resolution on Sri Lanka that allowed the country to have an internal investigation into alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity.

High Commissioner Zeid Raad al Hussain failed to convince member states of the rights body in 2015 September that Sri Lanka should be investigated by an internationally led 'hybrid' court.

The UN estimates that at least 70, 000 civilians were killed in the war in Sri Lanka.

© JDS