Sri Lanka rejects pressure over war: minister

May 14, 2009 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s government on Thursday rejected international calls for a halt to the war against Tamil Tiger rebels, hours after the UN Security Council called for civilian lives to be spared. “We are not going to succumb to international pressure to stop the offensive,” Media Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena told reporters.

He also appeared unmoved by the Security Council statement issued late Wednesday urging the government and rebels to “ensure the safety of civilians” and “respect their obligations under international humanitarian law.”

“We have no problem with it,” the minister said. “We are not using heavy weapons. As a government we have given that undertaking. We can’t hurt our own people in our own country.”

He said it was unfair that Sri Lanka was being subjected to demands for the fighting to stop and for aid workers to be given unrestricted access to the north.

“That is not possible,” Abeywardena said. “As a responsible government we can’t guarantee their safety. Even the ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross) is finding it difficult to deliver food supplies there.”

“In Gaza also they didn’t allow anyone (humanitarian agency) in. In Pakistan