Govt. dismisses concerns over Shavendra

The Government said that the appointment of new Army Commander  Lt. Gen. Shavendra Silva was a sovereign decision made by the Head of State and any type of influence from foreign entities was uncalled for.

“Foreign entities trying to influence the decisions and internal administrative processes of public service promotions in Sri Lanka is unwarranted and unacceptable,” the Ministry of foreign affairs said in a press release.

The Ministry further said, “Articulating a position of concern on this appointment by certain bilateral partners and international organizations, based on allegations, is regrettable and contrary to the principles of natural justice espoused by all responsible members of the international community.”

The United States yesterday said it was deeply concerned by the appointment of lieutenant General Shavendra Silva as Army Commander.

“The allegations of gross human rights violations agaisnt him, documented by the United Nations and other organizations are serious and credible. The 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 said.

Meanwhile, the Canadian High Commission tweeted today saying “Canada is deeply concerned by Lt. Gen Silva’s appointment as Army Commander in #SriLanka, despite credible allegations of gross #humanrights violations against him during the war. His appointment undermines reconciliation and accountability efforts.”

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet  also expressed serious concerns yesterday (19) about the appointment of the new Army Chief, Shavendra Silva.

“I am deeply troubled by the appointment of Lieutenant-General Shavendra Silva as Commander of the Sri Lankan Army, despite the serious allegations of gross violations of international human rights and humanitarian law against him and his troops during the war,” Bachelet said.

The High Commissioner had already described his previous appointment as Army Chief of Staff as a “worrying development” in her last report to the Human Rights Council in March 2019.

Lieutenant-General Silva commanded Sri Lanka’s 58th Division during the final stages of the military campaign against the LTTE (‘Tamil Tigers’) in 2009, and successive UN investigations have implicated his division in alleged serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights law.*

“The promotion of Lieutenant-General General Silva severely compromises Sri Lanka’s commitment to promote justice and accountability in the context of Human Rights Council resolution 30/1,” Bachelet said.  “It 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 Delegation of the European Union (EU) also issued the following statement in agreement with the Embassies of Germany, Italy, Netherlands, the UK High Commission, the Embassies of Norway and Switzerland.

“We fully share the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet’s serious concerns about the appointment of Lieutenant-General Shavendra Silva as Commander of the Sri Lankan Army, given the allegations of grave human rights and humanitarian law violations against him.”

“The promotion of Lieutenant-General Silva to the post of Army Commander calls into question Sri Lanka’s commitments to the UN Human Rights Council, as recently as March 2019, to ensure justice and accountability. It also undermines Sri Lanka’s efforts towards national reconciliation and sends a worrying message to victims and survivors of the war.”