Feature Article

IC sheds crocodile tears over Shavendra appointment, US engages with his war-time chief

[TamilNet, Monday, 19 August 2019, 19:23 GMT]
Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, a US citizen when he spearheaded the genocidal war on Eezham Tamils in 2009, must be facing the lawsuits filed against him in the USA. However, instead of putting an effective end to the presidential hopes of Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, the US establishment has chosen to engage with him furnishing loss-of-US-nationality paperwork as required by him. The trend is quite visible to those watching the discourse, including the visits by the US-friendly actors engaging with the Rajapaksas. However, the US Embassy in Colombo issued a statement stating that it was ‘deeply concerned by the appointment of Lt General Shavendra Silva as SL Army Commander. Where was this US concern while engaging with Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, commented Tamil activists in Jaffna.

SL President Maithiripala Sirisena appoints Shavendra Silva as the commander of the SLA after promot
SL President Maithiripala Sirisena appoints Shavendra Silva as the commander of the SLA after promoting him to the rank of lieutenant general

“This appointment undermines Sri Lanka's international reputation and its commitments to promote justice and accountability, especially at a time when the need for reconciliation and social unity is paramount,” the US Embassy led by Ms Alaina Teplitz, said in a statement issued on Monday.

Meanwhile, the US Ambassador was facing a critical question from Sinhala journalists why SLPP Presidential Candidate shedding US citizenship was yet to appear in the US Federal Registry.

“While engagement with Gotabhaya is promoted behind the scenes, a commander who served under him carrying out his orders is being publicly deplored. This is geopolitics,” commented a source which is on the pay-list of a US outfit in the island.

The ‘engagement’ policy stems from the US outlook of geopolitics, and Mr Gotabhaya has always been loyal to the military interests of the USA, the source further commented.

UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said on Monday that “the promotion of Lieutenant-General Silva severely compromises Sri Lanka’s commitment to promote justice and accountability in the context of Human Rights Council resolution 30/1”.

The news released issued by the UN website also quoted Ms Bachelet as saying that the appointment “undermines reconciliation efforts, particularly in the eyes of victims and survivors who suffered greatly in the war. It also sets back security sector reform, and is likely to impact on Sri Lanka’s ability to continue contributing to UN peacekeeping efforts.”

The International Truth and Justice Project (ITJP), an advocacy group, led by former BBC journalist Frances Harrison and South African human rights lawyer Yasmin Sooka, was quick to respond, publicising its previously released report on Shavendra Silva.

Ms Sooka served in 2010 as one of the three-member Panel of Experts advising the UN Secretary-General on accountability for war crimes committed in the island during the final stages of the war in 2009.

Silva’s appointment was throwing into question “US assistance to the Sri Lankan Army which is subject to Leahy Laws which prohibit the U.S. from providing military assistance to foreign security force units that violate human rights with impunity,” the ITJP's statement observed.

“I very much hope Sri Lanka’s allies will now take a principled step and ensure Major General Shavendra Silva is not granted a visa to travel abroad even on official duty,” the statement quoted Sooka as saying.

“The appointment could also potentially impact Sri Lanka’s recent resumption of deployment of UN peacekeepers,” the ITJP statement observed further.

Generally, the ITJP is known to conceal the root crime of Tamil genocide. The group also avoids focussing on the significance of the international community recognising the collective right of Eezham Tamils’ Self-Determination to resolve the decades-long national question in the island in a meaningful way.

Under these circumstances, Tamil activists in Jaffna also questioned whether the cases filed against Gotabhaya Rajapaksa in the USA were part of the US ‘engagement’ process.

Although the ITJP avoids to explain the impossibility of transition, especially without a systemic reconfiguration of the SL State, the outfit graphically illustrates the prevailing pattern of the crimes on the ground to a certain extent. The reports also establish that the so-called transitions, which the actors in the IC talked about in 2015, have not taken place at all.

The Colombo-based Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA), which is viewed by the critics as the local agent of the NGO-driven geopolitics of the West, has also come out with a statement on Shavendra Silva.

The CPA said it was “deeply concerned by President Maithripala Sirisena’s appointment of Major General Shavendra Silva as the Commander of the Sri Lanka Army (SLA)”.

“We are disappointed that the present Government, which committed itself to security sector reforms and accountability, has taken no action to address these concerns. Today’s appointment is in effect a repudiation of the promised reforms. It demonstrates a clear disregard for human rights norms, and will facilitate the further entrenchment of impunity in Sri Lanka,” the CPA statement said.

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