Stop Deploying Sri Lankan Troops to Mali for UN Peacekeeping Mission
London: The International Centre for Prevention and Prosecution of Genocide (ICPPG) is horrified to learn
that A Sri Lankan Army contingent of 243 military personnel will leave for Mali next Tuesday (Nov 12) for
UN peacekeeping operations despite the fact that their commander Major General Shavendra Silva is subject
to United States Leahy Law sanctions for his role as an alleged war criminal.
The ICPPG has taken immediate action and submitted a formal complaint to Jean Pierre Lacriox, who is
currently serving the United Nations as the Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations and to Michelle
Bachelet Jeria, who is the current United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, based in Geneva.
Major General Shavendra Silva commanded the 58 Division during the final phase of Sri Lanka’s Civil War.
He reported to General Jagath Jayasuriya, the Vanni Security Force Head Quarters (SFHQ) Commander. One
report said Shavendra Silva in early 2009 had 22 battalions under his command as opposed to the usual 9 in a
Division. He is currently the Colonel of the Gajaba Regiment and has remained loyal to the former Defence
Secretary and President’s brother, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, after the War. He was promoted to Adjutant General
of the Sri Lankan Army in 2017 by the Sirisena Government. In 2019, he was appointed Army Chief of Staff1.
Major General Shavendra Silva was in command during the repeated attacks on and capture of Kilinochchi.
There are reasonable grounds to believe that Shavendra Silva ordered attacks with the deliberate intention to
hit the civilian objects, such as the hospital and UN buildings, resulting in civilian casualties. The 58 Division
was directly involved in the military operation in PTK led by Shavendra Silva. He knew about PTK Hospital’s
coordinates as they were communicated to the Government, and he had access to drones and UAVs that surveyed
the area. There are reasonable grounds to believe that Major General Silva was fully aware that PTK
Hospital was being bombarded and shelled as UN officials informed the Sri Lanka Army on multiple occasions
that the hospital was coming under attack. Troops under the effective command of Shavendra Silva were
involved in the military operations in Pokkanai, when indiscriminate and intentional attacks were directed
against civilians, including at milk powder distribution points, which resulted in heavy civilian casualties,
including the killing and injuring of women and children. The evidence published in the ITJP report confirms
that Major General Shavendra Silva led the military operation against the hospital in Putumattalan and that
troops under his command captured the hospital. The UN report states that the surrenders at the Wadduvakkal
Bridge were to the 58 Division. An eyewitness interviewed by the ITJP confirms that Major General Shavendra
Silva, who has said he was in overall command of the area, personally shook hands with LTTE political
leaders who surrendered to him; their corpses were seen on the roadside some time later on the other side of
the Wadduvakkal Bridge2.
In September 2019, the UN spokesman Farhan Haq in New York announced that “We have expressed our
concern to the government of Sri Lanka over the appointment of Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva to the
position of commander of the Sri Lanka Army despite well-documented, credible allegations of his involvement
in serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights law. In light of this appointment,
the U.N. Department of Peace Operations is therefore suspending future Sri Lankan army deployments except
where suspension would expose UN operations to serious operational risk”3
The ICPPG expressed deep concerns over the deployment of the 243 Sri Lankan soldiers with frontline combat
experience in Sri Lanka’s war in 2009 despite the announcement of the UN spokesman Farhan Haq in New
York and the compelling evidence of war crimes committed under the command of Major General Shavendra
Silva, published by the ITJP4.
The complaint raised the question “We had understood the United Nations was taking a human rights compliant
approach and therefore banning deployment from Sri Lanka once Shavendra became Army Chief; three
months later we see these troops saluting the same alleged war criminal. Can you please explain to us how
this is possible?”
Furthermore, ICPPG noted the commander of this Mali contingent comes from the Vijayabahu Infantry Regiment
which was instrumental in the mass atrocities in the final war and in particular present at the Nandikaadal
lagoon in the final days of the war when summary execution and enforced disappearance were rife.
The ICPPG also raised the question whether the commander of this Mali contingent has actually been screened
by the United Nations?
“It’s been more than 10 years since the war was brought to an end, but the Tamils are yet to receive justice
and accountability for the War crimes committed by the Sri Lankan troops in Sri Lanka. We continue to receive
credible evidence of systematic torture and rape committed by the Sri Lankan security forces against the
Tamils in Sri Lanka. This situation is a terrible affront to the Tamil war victims they represent in Sri Lanka
and around the world and that the United Nations are letting them down yet again”, said Miss Ambihai Seevaratam,
one of the Directors of the ICPPG.
“If the UN is seriously committed to ensuring that peacekeeping forces are fit for purpose, then DPKO-DFS
and the troop contributing country (Sri Lanka in this case) need to ensure that the troops and senior personnel
are properly vetted so as to prevent human rights violators from going on peacekeeping operations. We urge
you to review the vetting procedure for Sri Lanka since the same issue comes up for the last four commanders
sent to Mali” said Mr Geeth Kulasegaram, who is another Director of the ICPPG and Human Rights Activist.
In summary, ICPPG demands the UN to immediately stop the deployment of the 243 military personnel to
Mali on Peace Mission and request to review the vetting procedure as the UN has a due diligence obligation.
The ICPPG also calls upon all the Tamil Diaspora Organisations and other Human Rights Organisations to
unite and act urgently to prevent this from happening.
For Further Information;
Miss Ambihai Seevaratam +44 7852 304 397
Mr Geeth Kulasegaram +44 7930 236 698 Email: email@example.com