Colombo, February 19 (newsin.asia): Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa has described the US designation of Lankan army chief Lt. Gen. Shavendra Silva and his family members for alleged war crimes, as “medieval collective punishment” in violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Rajapaksa said in a statement here on Tuesday, that “though the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights says that until a person accused of a crime is proved guilty according to law, he should be deemed innocent, this principle does not seem to apply to the Sri Lanka’s Army Commander or even to members of his family.”
The Prime Minister further said: “Even though we are now in the 21st Century, the US has banned even members of the army chief’s family, who have not been accused of any wrongdoing. They have been subjected to a collective punishment reminiscent of the practice in medieval Europe.”
The allegations against Gen.Silva are unfounded, the Lankan Prime Minister said.
“Even though this collective punishment has been meted out on the grounds that the Army Commander had committed violations of human rights, no one knows what these allegations are. The people should be the judge of how fair this is. Our government has already conveyed our displeasure in this regard to the government of the United States in the strongest possible terms,” he said.
Puts Opposition In the Dock
Turning the heat on the Opposition parties for its role in bringing about the present humiliation, Rahapaksa said: “It is because of the historic betrayal committed by the Yahapalana government formed by the United National Party, the Tamil National Alliance and the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) in co-sponsoring UN Human Rights Council Resolution 30/1 in 2015, that other countries are able to name members of our armed forces as violators of human rights.”
The Prime Minister pointed out that “the first operative paragraph of that Resolution had taken note ‘with appreciation’ the September 2015 Report of the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights which accused the Sri Lankan armed forces of human rights violations. This report was based on the previous 2011 unofficial report prepared by a three-member committee appointed by the then UN Secretary General outside the established procedure of that organization.”
“In this manner, the UNP-TNA-JVP combine ended up accepting all the unfounded allegations made against our armed forces by various interested parties. Our government has decided to withdraw from the process of co-sponsorship in relation to Resolution 30/1.”
“Even though the Army Commander of our country and his family have been subjected to a collective punishment reminiscent of medieval times, the Yahapalana political parties have not condemned it,” he noted.
“UNP Parliamentarian Lakshman Kiriella says that this travel ban imposed on the Army Commander and his family is the responsibility of the present government. The JVP says that the USA has imposed a travel ban on the Army Commander and his family at this particular moment due to a deal to ensure that the SLPP (the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna led by Rajapaksa) obtains a resounding victory at the forthcoming Parliamentary elections. For its part the Tamil National Alliance has welcomed the collective travel ban imposed on the Army Commander and his family. “
“The people should take note of the fact that when the UNP government co-sponsored Resolution 30/1 in the UN Human Rights Council, the so called anti-imperialist JVP did not oppose it.”
Patriots vs Traitors
Rajapaksa went on to say that while the political party led by him is patriotic, those parties which are not opposing the ban on the army chief are traitors.
“From the discussion that has taken place with regard to the collective punishment imposed on the Army Commander and his family, it becomes clear that the political divide in this country is between the patriotic camp which puts the country first, on the one hand, and born traitors who are waiting for the first opportunity to betray the country, on the other hand,” the Prime Minister said.