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Lanka paying the price for co-sponsoring Geneva Resolution US, TNA condemnation of new Army Chief:

Wimal Weerawansa, new copy

By Shamindra Ferdinando

(Courtesy of The Island)

National Freedom Front (NFF) leader Wimal Weerawansa, MP, yesterday told The Island that an unprecedented US statement critical of the appointment of Lt. Gen. Shavendra Silva as the Commander of the Army should be examined against the backdrop of the US backing war winning Army Chief retired Gen. Sarath Fonseka’s candidature at the 2010 January presidential election.

The US threw its full weight behind Gen. Fonseka, in spite of him being called a war criminal by the then US Ambassador Patricia Butenis, MP Weerawansa said.

The US advised the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) to back Fonseka, lawmaker Weerawansa said, adding that the US owed an explanation as to why it found fault with Silva’s appointment having backed the wartime Army Commander.

Pointing out that the Illankai Thamil Arasu Kadchchi-led TNA, too, had no qualms in backing Fonseka at the 2010 January presidential election, MP Weerawansa said that he comfortably won all electoral districts in the Northern and Eastern Provinces, including Digamadulla, MP Weerawansa said.

The (TNA) expressed deep dismay about the appointment.

TNA Spokesman and Jaffna District lawmaker M.A. Sumanthiran said the appointment of Shavendra Silva, who had been accused of grave crimes, as Army Commander, was a “serious affront to the Tamil people”.

“We are deeply dismayed by this appointment,” the TNA spokesman twittered hours after the announcement was made.

Responding to another query, the National Freedom Front Leader said that Lt. Gen. Silva was being deliberately harassed by those who couldn’t stomach the LTTE’s defeat. Weerawansa pointed out that of those who had commanded front line fighting Divisions on the Vanni front, Shavendra Silva was the only officer to receive an opportunity to command the Army.

The previous government brought the war to a successful conclusion in May 2009.

Fonseka command was followed by that of Lt. Gen. Jagath Jayasuriya, Lt. Gen. Daya Ratnayake, Lt. Gen. Crishanthe de Silva and Lt. Gen. Mahesh Senanayake.

Shavendra Silva commanded the Task Force 1/celebrated 58 Division during eelam war IV (2007-2009)

Weerawansa said that there was absolutely no basis for US assertion that the allegations of gross human rights violations against Shavendra Silva, documented by the United Nations and other organizations, were serious and credible. The NFF leader challenged the US, the TNA or any other interested party to produce evidence to prove so called serious and credible allegations.

Those who risked their lives to eradicate terrorism were being hounded, he said. The former JVPer condemned the US assertion that Shavendra Silva’s appointment undermined 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 was paramount.

MP Weerawansa said that national reconciliation would never have been possible if the Army failed on the Vanni east front. Shavendra Silva spearheaded operations in one flank in the overall Vanni campaign, the largest single combined security forces offensive against the LTTE.

Asked whether the issue would be raised in parliament, Weerawansa said that the military was in trouble today because the yahapalana government co-sponsored a resolution against its own armed forces at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva on Oct 01, 2015.

Pointing out that the Geneva resolution was adopted on the basis of unsubstantiated allegations yet to be inquired into in any court of law, lawmaker Weerawansa said US and TNA statements were based on those wild claims of war crimes, already disproved by several leading international military experts and by available evidence at the disposal of the US and UK governments as well as the United Nations.

The NFF leader said that the government should respond to US and TNA accusations. MP Weerawansa said that over the years, a section of the international community deprived senior military officials prestigious foreign courses and visas citing war crimes accusations. Weerawansa named retired Maj. Gen. Chagie Gallage as one of those who had been unfairly treated by foreign countries. Australia denied visa to Gallage on the basis of still unproven UN accusations.

MP Weerawansa urged the government to address the issue without further delay. The lawmaker said Army contingents assigned for overseas deployment under UN Command, too, undergo severe hardships for want of government intervention.

Responding to another query, Weerawansa said that the country paid a heavy price for not countering lies.

The government neglected its responsibility by the armed forces even after UK House of Lords member Naseby provided specific information required to challenge the main accusation pertaining to the massacre of over 40,000 civilians on the Vanni east front.

MP Weerawansa said that the government never really pushed for fresh examination of allegations though Foreign Minister Tilak Marapana, PC, referred to Lord Naseby’s revelations, in his address to the last Geneva council.

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