As part of Rim of the Pacific (RIPAC) 2022, the world’s largest multinational maritime exercise, the United States has invited Sri Lanka to participate despite growing concern over the country’s human rights record.
The Sri Lankan contingent included 10 officers, 38 sailors from the Navy Marines and 2 senior sailor instructors from Special Boat Squadron. They left today to Australia onboard Royal Australian Airforce heavy lift Aircraft C- 130.
“Sri Lanka Navy Marines battalion is the youngest in the World and raised with the support of US Marines on 27th Feb 2017. Initial training was conducted with the support of 11th US Marines Expeditionary Unit” writes retired Sri Lankan Admiral Ravindra C Wijegunaratne.
The naval exercises will take place in and around Hawaii and Southern California, USA. They will join 26 countries, 38 surface ships, four submarines, nine national land forces, more than 30 unmanned systems, approximately 170 aircraft and more than 25,000 personnel will train and operate in and around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California, June 29 to Aug. 4.
In their latest annual human rights report, the US State Department acknowledged that serious human rights abuses continued to afflict Sri Lanka including “unlawful and arbitrary killings, including extrajudicial killings; torture and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment by the government; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; arbitrary arrest and detention; politically motivated reprisals against individuals in other countries”.
Sri Lanka’s Navy personnel were directly involved in the harassment of several journalists including Tamil Guardian correspondents, Shanmugam Thavaseelan and Kanapathipillai Kumanan. More recently Navy personnel were identified in attacks against Tamil civilians.
RIMPAC commenced on 29 June and will be carried out in and around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California region. It will conclude on the 4 August.
The countries participating include Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Denmark, Ecuador, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Peru, the Republic of Korea, the Republic of the Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tonga, the United Kingdom and the United States.