Japan calls for Sri Lanka to build ethnic reconciliation

Updated 07 September 2014
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Japan calls for Sri Lanka to build ethnic reconciliation

COLOMBO: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Sunday called for Sri Lanka to build ethnic reconciliation, more than five years after the end of the island nation’s bloody civil war.
He also asked the South Asian country to do more to implement the recommendations of its own war commission, which conducted a limited probe into allegations of human rights violations.
Abe began a two-day visit to Sri Lanka on Sunday. It’s the first visit by a Japanese prime minister to the country in 24 years.
Sri Lanka’s civil war ended in 2009 when government troops defeated the Tamil Tiger rebels, who were fighting for a separate state for ethnic minority Tamils.
But the government has faced international criticism that it has not done enough to reconcile with Tamils.
Abe told the local Sunday Times newspaper he also hoped Sri Lanka could achieve “true national reconciliation” five years after the military crushed ethnic Tamil rebels to end the island’s separatist war.
Sri Lanka has been under intense international pressure over war crimes allegedly committed by the military in the final months of the war. The UN rights body in March ordered an international panel to investigate charges that Sri Lanka’s security forces killed at least 40,000 Tamil civilians.
Abe noted that Colombo, which has refused to cooperate with the UN-mandated probe, had expanded the mandate of its own inquiry into those disappearances during the war to include investigating war crimes claims.
“Japan hopes such efforts made by Sri Lanka will lead to dispel concerns indicated in the resolution by the UN Human Rights Council,” Abe said in an interview with the newspaper published Sunday.
Japan, the largest single foreign aid donor to Sri Lanka, remained neutral at the UN Human Rights Council vote in March that voted to set up the war crimes probe.
Abe arrives from Bangladesh later Sunday as part of a regional tour aimed at boosting trade and offsetting China’s mounting influence in South Asia.
Abe, who is travelling to Colombo with a business delegation, will be the first Japanese premier in 24 years to visit the Indian Ocean island.
He is due to hold talks with President Mahinda Rajapakse on expanding their economic and political ties, Sri Lanka’s information minister said. Officials said Japan was helping Sri Lanka set up a new digital television broadcast system and was also assisting with upgrading the transport sector.


Bosnia arrests Syrian, Algerian migrants with weapons

Updated 24 September 2018
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Bosnia arrests Syrian, Algerian migrants with weapons

SARAJEVO: Two migrants, a Syrian and an Algerian national found in possession of firearms were arrested in the Bosnian capital at the weekend, police said Monday.
It was the first time that police found weapons with migrants who have been passing through the Balkan country in growing numbers since the start of the year as they head toward western Europe.
“For the time being we do not know what they were planning to do with (the weapons),” a police spokeswoman told AFP.
“The two men tried to flee when police asked them for documents but they were quickly arrested,” spokeswoman Suvada Kuldija said.
The arrests were carried out on Sunday evening.
Police searched several locations linked to the two where they found and seized a “rifle, four guns, a silencer and more than 100 bullets of different calibres,” the spokeswoman added.
The 34-year-old Syrian national was officially registered with the authorities in charge of migrants, while police were verifying the status of the 23-year-old Algerian.
Since the start of the year, 15,000 migrants trying to reach western Europe have been registered in Bosnia, a minister said Sunday.
So far the influx does not compare with the hundreds of thousands who arrived in Europe via the ‘Balkans Route’ in 2015 and 2016, fleeing war and poverty across Africa and the Middle East.
The route was effectively closed in March 2016.
Now, most of the migrants, who enter Bosnia from Serbia or Montenegro, stay for a few days in Sarajevo before heading toward the northwestern town of Bihac.
Bihac is on the border with Europan Union member Croatia, where they try to sneak into the bloc.
Since the 1990s wars that marked the collapse of Yugoslavia, the Balkans have been considered a center for arms trafficking.
Militants who have carried out attacks in western Europe in recent years are also believed to have passed through.