Sri Lankan nationalists protest against Libya attack
Demonstrators hold up placards to protest against air strikes by coalition forces on Libya and against U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, in front of the United Nations headquarters in Colombo, Sri Lanka. 24/03/2011
Close ally Sri Lanka has come out in support of embattled Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi with a government minister on Thursday staging a protest outside the UN headquarters against air strikes on Libya by coalition forces. Colombo also called for a resolution of tension through dialogue.
In Parliament, foreign minister GL Peiris said coalition forces' action beyond the UNSC Resolution 1973 objective was not acceptable. "We feel empathy for the people of Libya. The action today has been taken in accordance with a UN Security Council resolution. But this authority given to them is not an open ended authority but it is restricted. Action should be taken to protect the civilians in Libya. Another matter is that the suffering of the Libyan people should be relieved by these actions. But the question is, have those people felt relief as a result of those air strikes," Peiris asked in Parliament on Wednesday.
Earlier, the Ministry of External Affairs ministry said the issue of protection of the civilian population in Libya remained a concern for Sri Lanka.
"In fact, it is this very same concern that led to the adoption of UNSC Resolution 1973. Hence, the measures taken under this Resolution must be linked to the objective of protecting civilians and civilian populated areas," the ministry said.
"Even as the security of the civilians continues to be re-established, it would be important to move swiftly towards a process of resolving differences through peaceful means and dialogue. Sri Lanka which has a longstanding relationship with Libya, deeply desires the early commencement of such a process," the ministry added.
On Thursday, minister and leader of National Freedom Front Wimal Weerawansa staged a protest in front of the United Nations office in Colombo. Weerawansa told the media that the party condemned the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon against his support towards the United States and Britain. He was quoted as saying that US and Britain were trying to create a situation similar to that of Iraq in Libya. According to Weerawansa, it was up to the Libyan public to decide on how to resolve internal issues in Libya.