Sri Lankans protest proposed UN rights resolution

Thousands joined government-backed protests across Sri Lanka on Monday against a proposed UN Human Rights Council resolution on alleged rights abuses during the country's civil war, the Associated Press reported.

Cabinet ministers urged citizens to join the demonstrations, which were planned in 150 cities and towns, according to the AP.

About 3,000 people, including some religious clerics and former military officers marched in Colombo towards the US embassy. There were also reports that demonstrators in some areas had been coerced to attend, the BBC reported.

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Earlier this month, US officials said they would back the human rights resolution which will be considered this week in Geneva.

It urges Sri Lanka's government to investigate alleged abuses, but Colombo says it interferes with the country's internal affairs and is outraged by the backing it is getting from the West.

Demonstrators chanted, waved national flags and held signs that read "Defeat Geneva conspiracy," ''Hands off Sri Lanka," and "Save Sri Lanka from UNHRC watchdog."

“Many thousands of Sri Lankan civilians died or suffered other violations in the final weeks of the long-running civil war in 2009. There has been no complete accounting of those deaths or other violations and no pursuit of accountability for them,” Eileen Donahoe, the US ambassador to the UNHCR in Geneva said last week. “We believe that real reconciliation must be based on accountability, not impunity.”

In Switzerland, outside the UN's office, about 1,000 ethnic Tamil exiles living in Europe demonstrated in favor of the international panel.

Human rights groups estimate that up to 40,000 civilians were killed at the end of the conflict while the government estimates about 9,000 people died.

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