Sri Lanka marks Tiger defeat amid probe pressure

Sri Dharanee Performance Arts Theatre

June 18, 2010 (AFP) – Sri Lanka staged a delayed victory parade Friday to mark the first anniversary of the end of its 37-year civil war as pressure mounted for a probe into alleged crimes committed during the fighting. President Mahinda Rajapakse took the salute at the ceremony attended by thousands of troops drawn from units that led the final assault against the Tamil Tiger rebels, whose leadership was wiped out on May 18 last year.

The military show, which was attended by diplomats and high-ranking government officials, was originally due to be held last month, but heavy rains forced its postponement to Friday, which was declared a public holiday.

Rajapakse used the occasion to slam foreign governments pressing for war crime probes and defended his forces, who continue to be dogged by allegations that they killed civilians indiscriminately and executed those surrendering.

“Our troops carried a gun in one hand and a copy of the human rights’ charter in the other,” said Rajapakse, dressed in white, from an open-air stage in central Colombo. “Our guns were not fired at a single civilian.” The remarks came as two senior advisers to US President Barack Obama wrapped up meetings with Sri Lankan officials, dur