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Sri Lankan President promotes accused war criminals as Generals

Sri Lankan army commander and accused war criminal, Shavendra Silva, was promoted to the rank of General.

The Sri Lankan Army’s official website stated that the Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has promoted Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva “to the rank of four-star General, effective from Monday (28 December 2020), which is considered a crystal clear endorsement and recognition of his selfless services to the nation.”

Silva, was promoted to General alongside another alleged war criminal and Sri Lankan Secretary of Defence, Kamal Gunaratne. “His Excellency the President promoted Major General (Retd) Kamal Gunaratne, Secretary of Defence to the rank of General with effect from 28 Dec 2020,” stated the Sri Lankan Army’s official website.

The statement described Silva as a ‘standout military commander’ and highlighted his role in “marked improvement in cyber security needs, COVID-19 roles and commitment to national drive against drug menace.”

Despite being currently banned from travelling to the US for his role in overseeing war crimes and human rights abuses which took place during the military offensive that killed tens of thousands of Tamils, Silva was made the head of Sri Lanka’s coronavirus task force even without having any public health experience.

Silva recently described “non-governmental organisations as a security challenge” and his militarised COVID-19 response prompted a lot of concern, including from the International Truth and Justice Project.

Earlier this year, Silva was also appointed to the National Sports Council by Sports Minister Namal Rajapaksa.

Silva and Gunaratne's appointments adds to the multiple ways that the Sri Lankan government is increasing military influence across the island and its worrying extension of appointments of former military officials – accused of human rights violations –  to senior diplomatic positions, continues despite widespread criticism. Last month, former Air Force commander, and accused war criminal, Sumangala Dias was appointed to become Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner to Canada.

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