Lt. General Shavendra Silva received the appointment letter as the 23rd Commander of the Sri Lanka Army from President Maithripala Sirisena on Monday. Secretary to the President Udaya R. Seneviratne is also in the picture. Picture by Sudath Silva
Sri Lankan government, in a rare display of its sovereign rights, has hit out at foreign criticism of the appointment of Lt. General Shavendra Silva as the new army commander. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that attempts by foreign entities to influence government decisions are ‘unwarranted and unacceptable’. This was issued with reference to criticism levelled by Western countries about the appointment of Gen. Shavendra as army commander by President Maithripala Sirisena on August 19.
American Ambassador Alaina Teplitz was the first to cast a stone at this appointment. She said that the allegations of ‘gross human rights violations against him, documented by the United Nations and other organisations, are serious and credible.’ The diplomat seems to have forgotten or deliberately overlooked the fact that Gen. Shavendra Silva has not been charged or prosecuted in any court. It is unfortunate that she jumps to the conclusion that the ‘gross human rights violations by him are serious and credible’ when they are mere accusations by certain interested parties and front organisations of the dreaded terrorist outfit, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
“This 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 in Colombo said.