He has long been accused of violating Human Rights… now, the US has taken action against him. On February 15, the Donald Trump Administration in Washington DC imposed an entry bar on Sri Lankan Army Chief Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva, citing his alleged involvement in War Crimes during the final stages of the tiny Island Nation’s Civil War…
The travel restriction on the Army personnel is the first significant international penalty to be imposed on a Sri Lankan official over atrocities committed during the 26-year-long Civil War between the Government forces and Tamil Tiger rebels, which ended in 2009. Earlier, the UN had estimated that nearly 40,000 Tamil civilians perished in those final stages, many in extrajudicial killings, accusations the Sri Lankan Government denied.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has confirmed the news, saying that Lieutenant General Silva and other members of his family would not be allowed to arrive in the US. “I am designating Shavendra Silva ineligible for entry into the US due to his involvement in extrajudicial killings during Sri Lanka’s Civil War,” stressed Pompeo.
The year 2009… the Civil War with the Tamil Tigers was all set to over. Sri Lanka witnessed brutal atrocities against its Tamil population by the State (dominated by the Sinhalese). Around 40,000 Tamil rebels were reportedly eliminated at that time. Lieutenant General Silva, who was serving as the Commanding Officer of an Army Division in the island’s northern war-zone in the final months of the military offensive against Tamil Tiger rebels, was accused of many extrajudicial killings! To stop the Tamil suicide attacks and violence in different parts of Sri Lanka, the current Army Chief violated Human Rights. Although charges of murders were brought against him, successive Sri Lankan Governments have ignored calls from Rights Groups and the Global Community to investigate and prosecute war crimes.
Pompeo has made it clear that Washington will help Colombo maintain a steady economic growth… however, the Army Chief and his family members will not be allowed to enter the US. He said: “The allegations of gross Human Rights violations against Lieutenant General Silva, documented by the UN and other organisations, are serious and credible.” The US Secretary of State further said: “We deeply value our partnership with the Sri Lankan Government and the long-standing democratic tradition we share with the Sri Lankan people. We urge the Sri Lankan Government to promote Human Rights, hold accountable individuals responsible for war crimes and Human Rights violations, advance security sector reform, and uphold its other commitments to pursue justice and reconciliation.”
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa
Meanwhile, the Government of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa recently detained former Sri Lankan Ambassador to Russia Udayanga Weeratunga for his alleged involvement in financial fraud during the procurement of four MiG-27 aircraft and the renovation of three MiG-27 and a MiG-23 aircraft for the Sri Lankan Air Force in 2006. The Island Nation had purchased those MiG fighter jets to use them against the ethnic Tamils. At that time, President Rajapaksa was the Secretary of the Defence Ministry!
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