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Hundreds of Sinhala nationalists protest against UN human rights chief

Photograph: Daily Mirror

Hundreds of protestors took to the streets of Colombo demanding UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein leave the island, shortly after his arrival in Sri Lanka on Saturday.

Waving Sri Lankan flags, protestors threw shoes and slippers at photographs of the UN human rights chief, before burning posters with his image.

The protestors, which included a large contingency of Buddhist monks, marched to the UN Office in Colombo, and held banners that read "Al Hussein hands off - Sri Lanka", "We condemn your report", "No war crime courts, no foreign judges" and "Don't send war heroes to the guillotine". 

Photograph: Daily Mirror

US President Barack Obama was also mocked on posters alongside the High Commissioner, as the protestors blocked roads in the southern capital.

National Freedom Front leader Wimal Weerawansa addressed the protest, telling demonstrators, "We will not let setting up courts in this country to fulfil the need of Western nations. Al-Hussein has come here to take our war heroes to guillotine, but we won't allow that to happen".

Photograph: Daily Mirror

On arrival the human rights chief told reporters that he will be meeting with “the highest officials of the state as well as representatives of all communities” and “will be listening to everything they have to say”.

He is due to visit the North-East and meet with Tamil leaders during his four day visit.

Mr Hussein's office released a report in September detailing the grave violations of international humanitarian law that took place during the final stages of the armed conflict on the island.

Stating that crimes against humanity and war crimes may have occurred, the High Commissioner said at the time, “a purely domestic procedure will not succeed in overcoming decades of broken promises… it is an inescapable reality that Sri Lanka’s criminal justice system is not ready to handle these types of crimes.”

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