Sri Lanka urged to move quickly on relief, rights

WASHINGTON, May 19, 2009 (AFP) – Sri Lanka must step up relief efforts and provide its Tamil minority political autonomy, governments and relief agencies urged after Colombo said it had finally routed the Tamil Tiger rebels. As the military mopped up in the far northeast, the European Union demanded an independent inquiry into allegations of human rights violations during the bitter fighting.

Meanwhile, ethnic Tamils marched in Washington and London to urge foreign nations to press Sri Lanka to end what they called “genocide,” although there were clashes in Geneva when protesters tried to get into UN buildings.

US State Department spokesman Ian Kelly welcomed an end to the war, saying the United States was “relieved that the immense loss of life and killing of innocent civilians appears to be over.”

He was speaking after Colombo announced an end to military operations and the death of rebel leader Velupillai Prabhakaran.

Washington called on Colombo to “turn the page” and engage the Tamils, the majority Sinhalese and others “to create a political arrangement that promotes and protects the rights of all Sri Lankans.”

India also called on Colombo to address the root causes of what was Asia’s longest-ru