Sri Lanka avoids war crimes probe, slams West

May 28, 2009 (AFP) – Sri Lanka celebrated a major diplomatic victory Thursday after managing to torpedo Western demands for a probe into alleged war crimes committed during the offensive against Tamil Tiger rebels.

A little more than a week after government troops defeated the separatist army, the island’s diplomats managed to lobby Asian support and commandeer a special session of the UN’s Human Rights Council in Geneva.

The Council session, called because of alarm over the high number of civilian casualties as well as the island’s treatment of displaced Tamil civilians, ended Wednesday with a resolution praising the outcome of the war.

“This is a strong endorsement of our president’s efforts to rout terrorism, and the successful handling of the world’s biggest hostage crisis,” Sri Lanka’s Human Rights Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe said.

Although the Tamil Tigers were accused of holding tens of thousands of Tamil civilians as human shields, government troops were alleged to have subjected rebel-held areas packed with civilians to intense, indiscriminate shelling.

But Samarasinghe dismissed Western criticism as “double standards.”

“They are opposed to the independent action we took to