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NCCT: Tamil Canadians welcome U.S. decision to impose Travel Ban on Sri Lankan Army chief

National Council of Tamil Canadians TORONTO – February 14 at 11:43 PM 

Tamil Canadians welcome U.S. decision to impose Travel Ban on Sri Lankan Army chief

Toronto: Tamil Canadians welcome the United States of America (U.S.) in sanctioning Sri Lankan Army chief Shavendra De Silva from entering U.S. quoting his involvement in gross violations of human rights.

Today February 14th, 2020, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a statement “I am designating Shavendra Silva making him ineligible for entry into the U.S. due to his involvement in extrajudicial killings during Sri Lanka’s Civil War. The U.S. will not waver in its pursuit of accountability for those who commit war crimes and violate human rights”.

The statement by Secretary of State adds “The Department of State has designated Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva, current Commander of the Sri Lanka Army and Acting Chief of Defense Staff, as required under Section 7031(c) of the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, due to credible information of his involvement, through command responsibility, in gross violations of human rights, namely extrajudicial killings, by the 58th Division of the Sri Lanka Army during the final phase of Sri Lanka’s Civil War in 2009.” The statement also adds “the allegations of gross human rights violations against Shavendra Silva, documented by the United Nations and other organizations, are serious and credible.”

This is a first of its kind decision against the Sri Lankan government and on one of its officers who is accused of gross human rights violations.
The current president Gotabaya Rajapakshe, who was the Defense Minister in 2009 conducted the offensive act that saw more than 75,000 innocent Tamil civilians killed. Gotabaya Rajapakshe and his elder brother Mahinda Rajapakshe, then President at that time and now the current Prime Minister, were both accused of war crimes, crimes against humanity and Genocide.

In a similar but a different context, The Canadian House of Commons unanimously passed a motion on June 19, 2019 includes the following text:

“Calls upon the United Nations to establish an international, independent investigation into allegations of genocide against Tamils committed in Sri Lanka, including the last phase of the armed conflict in 2009.”

These are an important step in the right direction to hold Sri Lanka accountable.

We request Canada and other countries to follow U.S.’s stand by imposing Travel ban on those, including President Gotabaya Rajapakshe and other military officials, who found to have credible evidence of war crimes, crimes against humanity and Genocide, and help to resolve the fundamental problem of ongoing structural genocide faced by the Tamils.

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