Sri Lanka minister urges US boycott

2012-03-13 19:43

Colombo - A government minister urged Sri Lankans on Tuesday to boycott American products because US support of a UN human rights resolution would encourage separatism in the island nation.

A resolution calling on Sri Lanka to investigate alleged abuses during the country's civil war is expected to be voted on next week by the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Government troops defeated the Tamil Tiger rebels to end a quarter-century civil war in 2009, and Housing Minister Wimal Weerawansa told a protest meeting that the resolution amounts to calling for the revival of the rebel group.

Sri Lanka's government has organized a series of protests against the resolution. It believes the resolution is interference and defends its own investigation, while human rights activists say Sri Lanka's efforts have fallen short of international standards.

The resolution calls on Sri Lanka to investigate allegations of human rights abuses by both the government troops and Tamil Tiger rebels in the final months of the war. A UN panel's investigation found tens of thousands of people may have been killed, largely through shell fire by the government troops.

Weerawansa said the resolution would be destructive to the postwar atmosphere. "Instead of promoting ethnic reconciliation, it will hamper that process and would increase acrimony and rancor among the communities," said Weerawansa.

"If we submit to this resolution, Tiger terrorists will raise their head again."

He called on people to boycott American brands such as Coca-Cola, Pepsi, KFC, McDonalds and Google's e-mail service Gmail.

"We must show our protest even in a small manner to US for the ill-treatment they are throwing at us," Weerawansa said.

The US is canvassing support for the resolution and is expected to introduce it.

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