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Last updated: 01 May, 2011 - Published 12:25 GMT
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Thousands rally against UN report
President Mahinda Rajapaksa (R) with eldest son, Namal, MP, in the May Day march (photo: Sudath Silva)
The president's call to oppose the UN panel report has been taken up by the major opposition
Tens of thousands of Sri Lankan attended May Day rallies in the capital, Colombo and other cities.

The government was keen for them to be seen as a show of support for the leadership and a public rejection of a recent controversial UN report.

The president's call to oppose the UN panel report has been taken up by the major legislative opposition, United National Party (UNP) and Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), except for the Tamil National Alliance (TNA).

The report, which was released last week, said widespread shelling by government forces killed tens of thousands of civilians.

It also criticised the Tamil Tiger rebels.

Pension scheme

It called for an international investigation into alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The Sri Lankan government rejects the report's findings.

The UNP May Day rallies also focussed on opposing the proposed pension scheme.

While many senior UNP leaders were attending the major rally in Bandarawela, the co-deputy leaders were attending the anniversary of the former President R Premadasa in Colombo.

Trade unions and fedrerations held a rally following a march attended by thousands opposing controversial government proposals for a pension scheme aimed at the private sector.

Calling the pension scheme as a programme 'undertaken by the government for the benefit of the working class,' President Mahinda Rajapaksa said that he would not allow anyone to 'sabotage the government policy to introduce the pension scheme'.

Rejecting the pension proposals trade union leaders called it an International Monetary Fund (IMF) directive.

At least 20,000 plantation workers joined three rallies organised by pro-government political organisations in the hill country.

TNA or Tamil parties did not have any May rallies in the North.

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