While Sri Lanka’s friends urge a domestic investigation into war crimes committed during the final months of the island’s war as a way of fending of an international probe, a defiant President Mahinda Rajapaksa made clear Friday there will be nothing of the sort.
“We were with you in the battlefield. It is the same today. We will not betray you before the world,” President Rajapaksa told his troops in a speech marking the second anniversary of the end of the war with the Liberation Tigers.
"I will recall what I said in the past - that our troops went to the battlefront carrying a gun in one hand, the Human Rights Charter in the other, food for the innocent displaced on their shoulders, and love of their children in their hearts," President Rajapaksa said.
"…we are proud of the humanitarian nature of our operation against the enemy,” he said.
Rajapaksa’s defiant speech comes as international support grows for the recommendations of the UN expert panel’s report which found credible allegations that war crimes were committed by both sides in the last days of the war.
But President Rajapaksa reiterated that Sri Lanka will not give into external pressure.
"Sri Lanka can solve its own problems and human rights cannot be guaranteed by only including them in the constitution", Rajapaksa said.
"We have established genuine human rights by eliminating terrorism", Rajapaksa told his military, 9000 of whom marched in the ‘victory parade’
He hailed Sri Lanka’s forces as "war heroes" and praised them for developing the country after the war.
"From the Foreign Service to the beautifying of Colombo city, war heroes contribute immensely for the betterment of this country. You who shed your blood for this country, are today toiling for the development process of the country," he said.
Though President Rajapaksa did not refer to the UN expert panel’s report directly, he dismissed allegations of war crimes as LTTE propaganda.
"Terrorism in a country begins with shooting down the truth. Even after war the Tamil Tigers continue to target the truth. As a result of this, conspiracies were launched to write false reports against our country and our war heroes," he said.