War-crime past to scuttle Sri Lankan envoy's Australia post

[TamilNet, Sunday, 23 January 2011, 17:05 GMT]
War-crime controversy over Thisara Samarasinghe, the new Sri Lanka high commissioner to Australia, is likely to derail his appointment, Sydney Morning Herald reported Sunday. "Foreign Affairs - which must decide if it will accept the nomination - sees the appointment as ''problematic'' for Australia amid calls for a United Nations investigation into human rights violations in Sri Lanka, Herald said.

Thisara Samarasinghe, Ex-Navy commander, alleged war-criminal, slated as envoy to Australia
Thisara Samarasinghe, Ex-Navy commander, alleged war-criminal, slated as envoy to Australia
While no specific allegation of war crimes arising from the conflict has been made against Vice-Admiral Samarasinghe, who took over as chief of the Sri Lankan Navy in July 2009 after the end of the civil war, Australia's Tamil community leaders have demanded that the Foreign Affairs Minister, Kevin Rudd, reject the nomination in protest at Sri Lanka's refusal to allow an international war crimes tribunal, the paper said.

Reports on or around 29th April 2009 confirmed that Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) attack crafts fitted with 100 mm cannon began firing artillery pieces along the shore of Mu'l'li-vaaykkaal. The makeshift hospital in Mu'l'li-vaaykkaal was hit by artillery shells. 9 patients were killed and 15 sustained injuries as many of the remaining patients had to seek shelter elsewhere, according to the reports from that date.

The former NSW attorney-general and Supreme Court justice John Dowd - who is collecting evidence for the International Commission of Jurists to present to an eventual war crimes tribunal in Sri Lanka - said the nomination of a senior military commander raised concerns, the paper said.

''It's very difficult to see how anyone in a senior command position … is not going to have a likelihood of allegations of war crimes, and indeed evidence of war crimes,'' the paper said, quoting Mr Dowd.

Vice-Admiral Samarasinghe commanded operations in the country's eastern and northern waters during the final three years of the fighting.

''[The nomination] clearly shows Sri Lanka is … becoming a military state,'' the paper quoted Sam Pari, of the Australian Tamil Congress, as saying. ''Their diplomatic posts are being taken over by military or former military personnel and I think that's a very, very worrying sign,'' she added.

Professor Francis Boyle, an expert in International Law and who teaches at the College of Law, University of Illinois commenting earlier on Sri Lanka's diplomatic appointments said, "the Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL) is trying to sanitize and immunize their genocidaires/war criminals and thus regularize it all."

Related Articles:
29.04.09   Hospital attacked, SLN naval crafts fire artillery pieces

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SMH: Choice of Sri Lankan envoy is questioned


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