Infographic by ITJP
Sri Lanka’s President, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, has appointed “an alarming collection of alleged perpetrators of war crimes and bureaucrats previously accused of corruption to his new government,” the International Truth and Justice Project (ITJP) said in a press release.
The organisation’s latest infographic highlights that Sri Lanka’s culture of impunity has allowed the concentration of power into the hands of those credibly accused of committing war crimes and being corrupt.
“Fourteen military and police officials now holding crucial official roles served under Gotabaya Rajapaksa during the civil war while he was the powerful and much feared secretary of defence,” the press release stated.
“Sri Lanka is now run by a collection of military officers many of whom will have to answer in a court one day for their complicity in the alleged killings of tens of thousands of their citizens in both 1989 and 2009, as well as alleged corruption,” Yasmin Sooka, the Executive Director of the ITJP said.
“With army generals like these in power it is clear the country is not vetting and screening public health officials for their human rights records,” Ms Sooka added.
Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva and Brigadier Priyanka Fernando are amongst those featured in the infographic.
Shavendra Silva was the head of Sri Lanka’s notorious 58 Division, an army unit that committed grave violations of international law during a military offensive that killed tens of thousands of Tamils. The 58 Division stands accused of the most egregious of crimes.
Fernando, who is now the 15th General Officer Commanding (GOC) of the 58 Division, was found guilty by a British court of threatening Tamil protestors in London in December 2019. The Westminster Magistrate’s court found Fernando guilty of violating the Public Order Act, after he motioned death threats to Tamil protestors in London last year, upholding a previous ruling that stated he was not protected by diplomatic immunity.
During the military offensive in 2009, Brigadier Fernando also fought in Weli Oya and Janakapura for the 11 Gemunu Watch Battalion as part of the 59 Division of the Sri Lankan Army, implicating himself in war crimes, such as the shelling of hospitals south of Mullaitivu.
Read the ITJP's full press release here.