World News

Japan urges world not to dictate to post-war Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka's Foreign Minister Gamini Peiris gestures to Japan's special peace envoy to Sri Lanka Yashushi Akashi as they walk out after a press briefing in Colombo, June 16, 2010. REUTERS/Stringer

COLOMBO (Reuters) - Japan on Wednesday urged the world not to dictate to Sri Lanka amid post-war reconciliation efforts and renewed calls from the West for a probe into possible war crimes.

Sri Lanka last month celebrated the first anniversary of its victory against Tamil Tiger separatists, ending 25 years of civil war, and rights groups used the occasion to push for an international war crimes investigation.

They blame the government for tens of thousands of civilian deaths. The government denies the charges.

Japanese peace envoy Yashushi Akashi, who is on his 20th trip to Sri Lanka, said the international community should not dwell on the past.

“It is up to the Sri Lankan government to define the precise roll,” Akashi told reporters in the capital, Colombo. “It is not for other governments or international organizations to dictate to Sri Lanka as to what it should be doing in this highly complicated and sensitive area.”

Japan, one of the top aid donors to Sri Lanka, in March signed agreements for 39 billion yen ($426.4 million) in development assistance for the Indian ocean island nation.

Akashi’s comments follow the visit by two White House officials and U.N. political chief Lynn Pascoe, who are pushing for accountability for human rights violations.

Samantha Power, special assistant to Obama on multilateral affairs and human rights, and David Pressman, National Security Council director for war crimes and atrocities, met President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Tuesday at the start of a four-day trip.

Colombo says the West is applying double standards by insisting on an investigation while the United States and Britain are not being probed despite thousands of civilian deaths in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan.

Editing by Nick Macfie