Sri Lanka’s president claimed that non-governmental organisations and opposing parliamentarians want to see him “dragged and be murdered like Gaddafi,” Libya’s ousted ruler, in an address on Sunday where he vowed not to imprison soldiers accused of war crimes.
Maithripala Sirisena lashed out against efforts to hold Sri Lankan soldiers to account for war crimes, stating that he was firmly against international efforts for justice.
“I asked not to imprison our soldiers who have fought in battles and defeated terrorism; but nobody listened to me,” claimed Sirisena.
“The same international forces point fingers at us, but they are the ones who committed all these wrongdoings. But they still demand conducting enquires against our forces. They accuse us of violating human rights and international laws.”
“Today, they ask us to punish our soldiers, from all over the world… (even) today, there are bigger hands of L.T.T.E. freely roaming around in the world,” he added. “Here, I clearly hold a firm idea that the forces should be freed after discussing with the international community.”
Sirisena went on to link calls for the release of Tamil political prisoners, many of whom have been held without charge, to accountability efforts for war crimes.
“There is a request that Tamil prisoners should be released,” he said in his address. “We held several discussions. If the Tamil prisoners are to be freed, then our solders should also be freed from different court cases that have been filed against them. That is justice.”
The Tamil National Alliance have previously stated that the issue of political prisoners was one they had repeatedly taken up with the Sri Lankan president, tweeting earlier this month that he would meet with the national security council on the issue. No action has been taken thus far.
The Sri Lankan president went on to claim that opposing parliamentarians had claimed he would “be dragged and be murdered like Gaddafi” and “burned in my own house with my family”.
“The NGO operatives who were holding press conferences also said so,” he added. “I will clearly state all, including the NGO persons and all your MPs who threatened to kill me to come and kill me and set fire on me and my house.”
See the full text of the speech here.