Sri Lanka ex-Military Commander barred from visiting U.S for training
[TamilNet, Tuesday, 22 January 2013, 12:29 GMT]
United States Department of State rejected the application for militiary training in the U.S. for Maj. Gen. Sudantha Ranasinghe alleging that Ranasinghe was likely complicit in commanding one of the military divisions, speculated to be the notorious 53rd, which is alleged to have been responsible for killing Tamil civilians numbering more than 80,000 according to the Petrie report, during the last phases of war in Sri Lanka. The paper did not say if other Sri Lanka military personnel have been admitted to undergo training in the U.S. Sri Lanka's Defence Secretary said that "nothing could be as foolish as rejecting an officer on the basis of him being in command of the 53 Division or any other fighting formation during the conflict," according to a report in the Island.
The report in Island claimed that Maj. Gen. Ranasinghe hadn’t been in command of any of the fighting formations, namely the 57 Division, Task Force I/the 58 Division, 59 Division, 53 Division, 55 Division and three other Task Forces involved in the Vanni offensive.
"[Gotabhaya] Rajapaksa said that those trying to haul Sri Lanka up before an international war crimes tribunal over accountability issues propagate lies. The alleged use of cluster bombs, too, was another lie propagated by interested parties, the Defence Secretary said, while challenging those accusing Sri Lanka of mass killings, during the final phase of the conflict, at least to come up with one figure. He pointed out that some alleged 40,000 perished during the final phase. Others talk about 70,000 deaths, whereas some British politicians allege 100,000 deaths," the Defence Secretary said, according to the Island.
The paper added that Rajapakse "urged the US not to be deceived by false propaganda," and added, "We expect the international community to appreciate our efforts against terrorism. Unfortunately a section of the global community is targeting us over unsubstantiated allegations," quoting Rajapakse.
The paper said that Colombo "is expected to raise the issue with a high level US delegation scheduled to arrive in Colombo over the weekend. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State James Moore, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence Vikram Singh, and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Jane Zimmerman are scheduled to visit Colombo and Male during the period of January 26 and February 1."