Sri Lankan soldiers “should not be allowed to wear the blue helmet” of United Nations peacekeepers, said Canadian parliamentarian Gary Anandasangaree in a piece published in The Star this week.
Writing ahead of the United Nations Peacekeeping Conference taking place in Vancouver later this month, the Liberal MP said the Sri Lankan military “has a long record of rights violations”.
He went on to cite reports of Sri Lankan peacekeepers deployed to Haiti by the UN who ran a sex ring operation with children, some as young as 12. “Some 134 members of the Sri Lankan military were implicated, with 114 of these men being returned to Sri Lanka by the UN without any consequences,” he added.
“In 2015, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights found the Sri Lankan military had indeed committed war crimes and crimes against humanity during the period of the war and beyond,” continued Mr Anandasangaree. “These include indiscriminate bombings of hospitals and no-fly zones, rape and sexual violence, violating the Geneva Convention by conducting summary executions of those who surrendered, enforced disappearances and more.”
“The Sri Lankan legal system appears unwilling and unable to handle any of these international crimes.”
He went on to cite a recent report by Adayaalam Centre for Policy Research and People for Equality and Relief in Lanka (PEARL), detailing the militarisation of the North-East.
“The Sri Lankan military continues to violate the rights of Tamils in the North and East of the island,” he said. “The army occupies as much as 60,000 acres of civilian land just in the Mullaithivu district in Northern Sri Lanka, with massive camps that encroach on the daily lives of civilians.”
“By inviting Sri Lanka to take part in discussions on peacekeeping without substantive progress on accountability, the UN is validating the island nation on the world stage, thereby sending the message to other despotic leaders and rogue countries that they too could violate the rights of their people without consequences.”
“Given Sri Lanka’s history in Haiti, its treatment of Tamils on the island, and its history of impunity, its soldiers should not be allowed to wear the blue helmet, which is often seen as the embodiment of peace and protection of the innocent.”
See the full piece here.