Sri Lanka says war crimes allegations ‘propaganda’

PERTH, October 27, 2011 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s government on Thursday sought to dismiss war crimes allegations as propaganda from its defeated rivals, as it came under further pressure ahead of a Commonwealth summit. A spokesman for Sri Lankan President Mahendra Rajapakse described the heavy focus on the issue in the lead-up to Friday’s gathering of leaders from the 54-nation Commonwealth bloc in the Australian city of Perth as “unfair”.

“This is the well-oiled propaganda machinery of the LTTE rump,” spokesman Bandula Jayasekera told the ABC news network, in reference to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and its diaspora overseas.

Sri Lankan government forces are accused of committing atrocities against the Tamil Tigers during a final push that defeated the separatists in 2009, with accusations that the military killed tens of thousands of civilians.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard raised the issue with Rajapakse during talks in Perth on Wednesday, and it is expected to be high on the agenda during the three-day Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM).

“This is hearsay. These are mere allegations… we have ended 30 years of terror,” Jayasekera said.

Rajapakse also repeated