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The United Nations brushed aside calls Wednesday to investigate alleged human rights abuses in the recently concluded fighting between government forces and Tamil Tiger (LTTE) rebels in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka’s allies on the 47-member council, including China, Cuba and Egypt, forced through a resolution with 29 votes to 12 against and six abstentions condemning the rebel group for using civilians as human shields but stressing that the war was a “domestic” matter that didn’t warrant outside interference.

A majority on the council backed Sri Lanka in its defeat of the LTTE rebels after years of civil war. This position remained dominant despite pressure from some aid organizations such as Human Rights Watch (HRW) which have previously been accused of taking a pro-rebel stance. Human Rights Watch is now active in the conflict region of Pakistan.

The U.N.’s High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay (of South African Tamil Origin) and several European countries, along with Canada, Chile and Mexico had backed a probe, and had urged Sri Lanka to fully open up refugee camps to international aid agencies.

The Geneva-based council chose instead to recommend that Colombo provide aid groups only with “access as may be appropriate” to refugee camps.

Sri Lanka’s ambassador in Geneva said European nations had failed with their “punitive and mean-spirited agenda” against his country. “This was a lesson that a handful of countries which depict themselves as the international community do not really constitute the majority,” said Ambassador Dayan Jayatilleka. “The vast mass of humanity are in support of Sri Lanka,” he told The Associated Press.

The Sri Lankan government relaxed restrictions on motor vehicles in the country’s largest refugee camp today, the UN also said.

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