Shavendra Silva Appointment in USA’s Gunsights

Rajeewa Jayaweera, in Island, 23 August 2019, with this title “Howls against Gen. Silva’s appointment”

The appointment of Lieutenant-General Shavendra Silva as the 23rd Commander of the Sri Lankan Army by President Sirisena has resulted in howls of protests from leading members of the so-called international community including the UNHRC Chief. In the home front, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) has condemned war time Divisional Commander Gen. Silva’s appointment. Nevertheless, they wholeheartedly supported wartime army commander Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka’s bid for the Presidency in 2010. TNA spokesperson MA Sumanthiran MP tweeted, the appointment “was a serious affront to the Tamil people.” Sumanthiran forgets the election of his leader who recognized LTTE Supremo Prabhakaran as the sole representative of Tamil people, as Leader of Opposition in the Parliament. It was an equally serious affront to the Sinhalese people. People refrain from giving voice to their feelings on the subject due to the charade called reconciliation.

General Silva at 58th Brigade HQ with Frontline Journalist Muralidhar Reddy in April  2009-Pic by Kanchan Prasad

Local NGO proxies are yet to join the bandwagon. The US Embassy statement said: “The allegations of gross human rights violations against him, documented by the United Nations and other organizations, are serious and credible.” The US nevertheless quit one such “other organizations” the UNHRC in June 2018 calling it “a cesspool of political bias.”

Similar statements by the European Union Permanent Delegation in Colombo, UNHRC Chief Michelle Bachelet, and Canada, followed almost immediately.

Sri Lanka finds itself in a sad situation for which its current leaders are mostly to blame. It is unable to even make decisions on administrative appointments without the paragons of virtue among the international community voicing their unsolicited opinions and objections.

This phenomenon commenced with the advent of the Yahapalana government and the UNHRC 30/1 sellout in September 2015.

The Island editorial comment on Tuesday, August 20, was conciliatory. It praised the US and TNA for having realized the value of Human Rights and the need to protect them. This writer begs to differ.

Human Rights is by no means the hallowed principle the US, Canada, and the EU member states would have us Third World countries believe. It is a tool used to subjugate impoverished Third World nations to achieve their global strategic objectives. Some local politicians in countries such as Sri Lanka shamelessly assist them.

Truth be told, none of these countries give a toss for human rights other than for their people in their own countries. International Criminal Court Judges moved to charge American soldiers for war crimes in Afghanistan. The US threatened to arrest and sanction ICC judges and other officials, and the matter ended there. The UK deprives people of Chagos Island it forcibly evicted in 1965 from returning to the land of their birth. Britain claims it needed the island for its global defense strategies. It refused to abide by a 13 to 1 vote in the ICJ for Britain to complete decolonizing as quickly as possible. It has also refused to accept the non-binding UN Resolution passed with 116 nations voting in favor of Britain vacating the archipelago. Human Rights champion Canada stubbornly refuses to cancel a USD 15 billion arms deal despite the many allegations of Human Rights violations against Saudi Arabia.

TNA’s love for Human Rights is one-sided. It has to date, not uttered a word of the need to prosecute Adele Balasingham, Australian born wife of LTTE theoretician Anton Balasingham and former leader of the Women’s Wing of the LTTE. She was responsible for training, arming, and sending hundreds of Tamil child soldiers to their deaths. Balasingham lives in the UK today with no hindrance from British authorities.

Suffice to state, had Sri Lanka signed up the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), there would have been no objections to Gen. Silva’s appointment. He may have even been invited to visit the US by the US military.

Principled decisions invariably have consequences. In this instance, they could be in the form of the curtailment of GSP+ facilities and reduction or suspension of UN Peace Keeping missions for our soldiers.

After over four years of servile kowtowing, the response by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs comes like a breath of fresh air. The Foreign Office has defended President Sirisena’s decision as “a sovereign decision by the Head of State.” For once, the Foreign Ministry has done its duty of defending Sri Lanka.

Well done, Minister Tilak Maparana and Foreign Secretary Ravinatha Aryasingha! Way to go.

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