by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) June 28, 2011
The United States on Tuesday urged Sri Lanka to move quickly to address allegations of war crimes, warning of rising pressure for international action if it does not.
The State Department stopped short of endorsing calls for an international investigation into the bloody finale of the island's civil war in 2009, saying that domestic authorities have primary responsibility to ensure accountability.
"We continue to urge the government of Sri Lanka to quickly demonstrate that it is able and willing to meet these obligations as it seeks reconciliation," a State Department statement said.
"We hope the Sri Lankans will themselves do this, but if they do not, there will be growing pressure from the international community to examine other options," it said.
Pressure has mounted on Sri Lanka since Britain's Channel 4 broadcast a documentary that showed what it said were prisoner executions and bodies of female Tamil fighters who appeared to have been sexually assaulted.
The United Nations has said that up to 7,000 civilians were killed in the final months of the fighting and a recent UN report accused government forces of executing rebel leaders who were said to have worked out a surrender.
An estimated 100,000 people were killed in the nearly four-decade-long Tamil separatist conflict, which began in 1972.
Sri Lanka's government has questioned the authenticity of the Channel 4 footage but said that a local panel, known as the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission, would take action if the allegations are proven.
The documentary also pointed to abuses by the Tamil Tigers, who were known for suicide bombings during their decades-long insurgency. Sri Lankan officials said the Tigers kept civilians as human shields during the final offensive.
With urging from the Tamil diaspora, a number of US lawmakers have called for the State Department to exert greater pressure on Sri Lanka.
In Britain, Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt recently warned that the international community would revisit "all options available" to press Colombo over its rights record.
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Filipino military upgrades against threats
Manila, Philippines (UPI) Jun 27, 2011
The Philippine air force intends to purchase additional aircraft and upgraded radar systems by 2016. The new equipment is projected to cost more than $320 million, or over a third of $916 million promised by the administration of President Benigno Aquino to enhance the military's capability to protect the country's maritime resources and territorial integrity, the Manila Bulletin report ... read more
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