By August 31, 20170 CommentsReport

Sri Lanka defends General accused of war crimes against LTTE

Colombo, Aug 30 (PTI) The Sri Lankan government today came out in defence of a former Army Commander accused of committing war crimes during the brutal civil war against the LTTE, saying every death in the three-decade long conflict cannot be treated as a human rights abuse case.

Government spokesman Rajitha Senaratne said the government was prepared to probe any specific charges made against the military and Commander Jagath Jayasuriya.

Senaratne, who is also the Health Minister, said the accusations against Jayasuriya were of a general nature.

“Every death which occurred during the civil war could not treated as a case of human rights abuse as we were conducting a war against terrorism,” he added.

The Army spokesman Brigadier Roshan Seneviratne said the allegations were baseless.

The International Truth and Justice Project, a human rights group had filed war crimes charges in Brazil and Colombia against Jayasuriya, who was the Sri Lankan Ambassador to Brazil.

He was also accredited to four more countries in the Latin American region.

The lawsuit filed in Brasilia and Bogota on Monday alleged that General Jayasuriya bore individual criminal responsibility as the Commander of units that committed repeated attacks on hospitals, acts of torture and sexual violence, enforced disappearances and extra-judicial killings.

Jayasuriya was commanding the Sri Lankan Army’s Wanni brigade in the north of the country where conflict raged during the last phase of the war with the LTTE.

He later succeeded war wining commander Sarath Fonseka as the overall Army chief.

As recognition for their services towards ending the 30 years long armed conflict some senior military personnel were given plum diplomatic postings, including Jayasuriya who was appointed as Sri Lanka’s ambassador to Brazil.

Sri Lanka faced UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) resolutions for alleged human rights abuses during the last phase of the conflict.

Sri Lanka’s human rights record, particularly over the impunity enjoyed by law enforcement officers, has been the subject of international condemnation.

The UNHRC demanded accountability mechanisms to probe rights abuses blamed on both the LTTE and the government forces that ended in 2009.

Sri Lanka is averse to setting up of an international hybrid court with local and foreign judges to investigate the alleged war crimes committed by the government troops and the LTTE in the last phase of the conflict.

Relatives of the missing Tamil people allege that the Lankan state – particularly its army, navy and police – were behind most of the disappearances.

According to the government figures, around 20,000 people are missing due to various conflicts including the civil war with Lankan Tamils in the north and east which claimed at least 100,000 lives.

The LTTE, which led the separatist war for a separate Tamil homeland, was finally crushed by the Lankan military in 2009 with the death its supremo Velupillai Prabhakaran.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.


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