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Former Sri Lankan Air Force commander refused diplomatic posting over concerns over war crimes

Retired Sri Lankan Air Force commander, Sumangala Dias, has reportedly been refused a post as Sri Lanka's Ambassador for Italy following similar rejections in Canada due to concerns over war crimes.

According to a report in The Island, the government is now looking to post the former Air Force commander as Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner in Malaysia.

The government though continued to claim that Canada “has not declined the nomination of AM Dias as the High Commissioner of Sri Lanka” and refused to elaborate on why the war crimes accused commander has still not received a posting.

"Authoritative sources said that retired senior members of the Sri Lankan military had been rejected on the basis of unsubstantiated war crimes accusations," added The Island. "Some countries have declined to issue visas even for private visits, sources said."

Photo of the aftermath of the Sencholai massacre

The former Air Force Commander was appointed as Senior Air Coordinator during the final stages of the armed conflict, coordinating SLAF operations with the ground operations of the 57, 58 and 59 Divisions of the Sri Lankan Army, which have been credibly accused of war crimes. Dias was appointed as Base Commander at SLAF Hingurakoda Base, Sri Lanka in 2005, from which many indiscriminate bombing missions against civilian targets originated from.

In his role he oversaw several attrocities including airstrikes on civilians in the Ampur region in 2006, the Sencholai massacre, and the targetted attacks on food distribution queues and no-fire zones during the final phase of the conflict. The final phase of the conflict saw the slaughter of an UN estimated 25,000 civilians.

Photo of makeshift shelters in Mullaivaikkal 2009

Sumangala Dias’s reported appointment in Canda last year received opposition from Tamil Canadian groups and parliamentarians, including The National Council of Canadian Tamils (NCCT), Gurratan Singh the MPP for Brampton East, and People for Equality And Relief in Lanka (PEARL). 

Read MPP Gurrataran Singh and PEARL's statement here.

Read more on his current reported rejection from The Island here and here

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