New Delhi: The United States on Friday banned Sri Lankan Army chief Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva and his family members from entering the country, due to the alleged human rights violations by the Sri Lankan troops during the final 2009 battle that led to the end of the country’s over two-decade-long civil war.
In a statement, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, ‘The allegations of gross human rights violations against Shavendra Silva, documented by the United Nations (UN), as well as other organisations, are serious and credible.’
‘We urge the Sri Lankan government to promote human rights, hold accountable individuals responsible for war crimes and human rights violations, advance security sector reform, and uphold its other commitments to pursue justice and reconciliation,’ he added.
Lt Gen Silva, whose appointment as the Sri Lankan Army chief last year drew international criticism, was commanding an army division in the country’s north, in what turned out to be the final months of the military offensive against the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
Rights groups have alleged that some 40,000 ethnic Tamils in the course of action by the government forces to seize the predominantly Tamil north. The UN too, in a report, has held Lt Gen Silva responsible for orchestrating ‘war crimes.’
As many as 100,000 people were killed during the course of the civil war as the LTTE, led by its founder-chief Velupillai Prabhakaran, fought to create a separate Tamil state called the Tamil Eelam.
Prabhakaran, who led the LTTE since founding the group, was himself killed in the offensive by the Sri Lankan military.