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Students in Chennai protest against war crimes against Tamils in Sri Lanka

Chennai, Mar.27 (ANI): Scores of college and school students staged a mass protest here on Wednesday against alleged war crimes committed on Tamils by the Sri Lankan Government and its army during the country’s over two decade old civil war, which ended in May 2009.

Protesters gathered outside the All India Radio (AIR) building in Chennai and threatened to lock it down as a symbol of their anger against the Central Government.

They were of the view that since the Central Government had not taken a strong stance against Sri Lanka in the war crimes case, all its symbols in the state capital have to be closed down.

Manisha, one of the protesters, said that shutting down central government offices was one way of exhibiting the Tamil Nadu population’s anger over the former’s weak response to the abysmal human rights situation in Sri Lanka.

However, the police arrived in time to prevent the demonstrators from barging into the All India Radio premises.

Some of the protestors were taken into custody for disrupting law and order.

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa is under fire from the UN Human Rights Council, which last year adopted a United States-sponsored resolution demanding that Sri Lanka ensure government troops who committed war crimes during the final stages of its war against Tamil rebels are brought to justice.

Washington believes Sri Lanka has failed to do that, and this March will repeat its actions the same forum. Washington and London are trying to exert some pressure on Colombo, expressing concern at attacks on journalists, activists and lawyers.

Meanwhile in Coimbatore, lawyers took to the streets, and burnt an effigy of Sri Lankan President Rajapaksa and raised slogans against his government.

Earlier this month, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) withdrew support to the UPA Government as a mark of protest against the latter’s stance on a US-backed United Nations resolution on war crimes committed during the civil war in Sri Lanka.

The DMK has 18 seats in the Lok Sabha, and was regarded as key ally of the ruling regime at the Centre till its decision to withdraw support was announced eight days ago.

The 26-year-long civil war between the government and the Tamil Tiger rebels is estimated to have left tens of thousands of people dead or injured.

International investigators, whose findings have been rejected by the Sri Lankan authorities, have said the army committed large-scale abuses and was responsible for many civilian deaths in the final stages of the war.

The International Commission of Jurists said that the failure to submit those abuses and others committed by the Tigers to a court was a symptom of the overall lack of accountability in the country, where rights groups say abductions and attacks on media are also common. (ANI)

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