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Last updated: 06 July, 2010 - Published 13:39 GMT
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Int. with Minister Weerawansa
Minister Weerawansa with former US Ambassador Robert O' Blake (file photo)

Several hundred Sri Lankans have staged an angry demonstration outside the United Nations office in the capital, Colombo.

They have burnt an effigy of the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon, in protest at his launch of a human rights panel looking at the Sri Lankan war.

The rally was presided over by Wimal Weerawansa, Minister of Construction and Housing, who is urging people to besiege the UN compound in retaliation.

Here are the excerpts of Minister Weerawansa's interview (in Sinhala) with BBC's Colombo correspondent, Charles Haviland.

Q: What are you doing?

Minister: The UN’s Ban ki Moon has taken a decision which he has no power to do. Sri Lanka is a member of the UN. If they are taking action against a member country, what Ban needs to do is to take a proposal to the UN Security Council or the Human Rights Council. Without doing that, he doesn’t have any power to appoint a panel to advise himself.

That panel is appointed to take the Sri Lankan president, military chiefs, soldiers who defeated terrorism, to a war crimes tribunal, by charging them with war crimes. This panel is the start of a whole process on war crimes which they want to have. Patriotic Sri Lankan people will not allow that. Those Ban Ki-Moons thought that we can’t defeat terrorism in this country, but the people of this country proved all of them wrong. So, until Ban Ki-Moon withdraws his three-member panel against Sri Lanka, we will not stop our fight. I say this as the leader of the National Freedom Front, not as a government minister.

Q: Aren’t you embarrassing the government? Isn’t this instigation of terrorism?

Minister: I will do this whether or not I am a government member. Minister or not, I will do this. I am a citizen who loves this country. We have the responsibility to safeguard our leaders, soldiers who brought peace to this country, and not to allow them to be taken to a war crimes tribunal. I am doing this not because I am a minister or party leader but as a citizen who loves the country. We all have to get together, even the honourable monks, for this purpose. This is not a terrorist activity. Terrorist activities are commmitted by America in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Q: What will you do now?

Minister: We are requesting Mr Ban Ki-Moon to withdraw his three-member panel. Until he withdraws it, we will stage continuous demonstrations and this hunger strike in front of the UN office in Colombo. If he doesn’t do that, we will make our protest more serious.

Q: What if he doesn’t withdraw it?

Minister: As long as he doesn’t abolish it, we will take more serious action in this way. Also we have invited all the Sri Lankans in the world to stage strikes in front of UN offices around the world. Then this will be a worldwide protest against the UN appointing this panel.

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