2ND LEAD (Adds video)
Suspect Sri Lanka war-criminal in UN post under US media spotlight
[TamilNet, Monday, 06 December 2010, 07:42 GMT]
“The Sri Lankan government has appointed a senior army officer accused of war crimes in the conflict with Tamil rebels as its deputy permanent representative to the United Nations,” Washington Times said in a lead article Sunday referring to ex-Major General Shavendra Silva who commanded one of the largest divisions in Sri Lanka Army, and was the front line commander during the final phases of the war, the blood bath in which more than 40,000 Tamil civilians were alleged to have been killed in indiscriminate bombardment.
Shavendra Silva, retired Army General
The paper said Maj. Gen. Shavendra Silva's presence in New York coincides with U.N. Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon setting up a panel of experts to advise him on accountability for human rights violations during the final stages of the conflict in Sri Lanka.
The paper quoted Alan Keenan, project director at the International Crisis Group (ICG) as saying “[it is] disturbing that someone who himself was involved in the very incidents that the U.N. has begun looking into should have any chance to influence the panel's operations.”
A senior Sri Lankan army officer has confirmed in a sworn affidavit to the group Tamils Against Genocide (TAG) that the army was given orders to kill guerrilla leaders and then burn their bodies, the paper said quoting Jan Jananayagam, a UK-based member of TAG.
The paper said Sri Lanka’s defense secretary has denied giving such orders and that Gen. Silva in a written response to the paper’s questions has said that reports of the army attacking hospitals are “fabricated.”
Sri Lanka’s Defense Secretary, Gotabhaya Rajapakse, is widely known to be the key policy maker on Sri Lanka’s conduct of the war against Liberation Tigers. On 2 February 2009, Gotabaya Rajapaksa in an interview given to the British Sky News has this to say: “So nothing should exist beyond the no fire zone.” … Interviewer: “So just to be clear, if this hospital is operating” … Gotabaya: “No hospital should, no hospital should operate now” … Interviewer: “if it’s outside of the safe zone, it’s a legitimate target.” Gotabaya: “Yes. No hospital should operate in the area, nothing should operate. That is why we clearly gave these no fire zones.”
The paper also referred to the recent cable exposed by the website WikiLeaks, U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Patricia Butenis, wrote that the Sri Lankan president, along with the country's top civilian leadership and Gen. Fonseka are largely responsible for the alleged war crimes, the paper said.
Washington Times appears to be reconsidering its view of the Sri Lanka conflict. The paper’s previous position has been that Sri Lanka’s tactics in winning the war against a “ruthless terrorist organization” should be supported, and that others can learn lessons from Sri Lanka’s victory.
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