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Thousands in Sri Lanka protest proposed UN war crimes resolution

Thousands of Sri Lankans joined government-sponsored protests on Monday in opposition to a proposed UN Human Rights Council [official website] resolution concerning crimes that allegedly occurred during the country's civil war. The protests, which were planned throughout 150 cities on the same day that the council began a four-week session in Geneva, were organized in an attempt to show the country's opposition to Western countries backing the UN resolution which calls for an investigation into alleged war crimes [BBC report] committed by both the Sri Lankan government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) [TIME backgrounder]. Sri Lankan government officials have said there is no need for a resolution [Reuters report] and that the country remains committed to conducting its own investigation.

Sri Lanka has conducted some independent investigations into allegations of war crimes occurring during the civil war. In December, Sri Lanka's Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission released a report concluding that Sri Lanka's military did not intentionally attack civilians [JURIST report] following the country's civil war. In November, Sri Lankan Secretary of Defence Gotabaya Rajapaksa stated that the government had begun counting the number of civilian deaths from its 26-year civil war with the LTTE. Also in November, a Sri Lankan army chief was sentenced to three additional years of imprisonment [JURIST report], for implicating another Sri Lankan official in war crimes.

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