Australia presses Sri Lanka over war crimes claims

PERTH, October 25, 2011 (AFP) – Australian leader Julia Gillard on Tuesday urged Sri Lanka to address claims of serious human rights violations as a man filed war crimes charges against President Mahinda Rajapakse. “Instead they caused such brutality to them, to our country, and also posed a threat to our region.” Sri Lanka has persistently denied that its troops committed atrocities while battling the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, who were crushed in an offensive that ended in May 2009, bringing the 26-year conflict to a close.

But Prime Minister Gillard said the allegations were a concern.

“Australia and like-minded countries have been urging and will continue to urge Sri Lanka to address the serious allegations that have been made of human rights violations,” she told Perth radio.

Rajapakse is due in Perth this week to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) and the issue is likely to be prominent on the agenda.

Rights groups say CHOGM has a moral and legal responsibility to hold the Colombo government to account.

Gillard’s comments came as a Sri Lankan man who says he is “living testimony” to the massacre of Tamils in the conflict filed a war crimes