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Swiss ambassador exchanges gifts with Sri Lankan military commander in Jaffna

Dominik Frugler, the Swiss ambassador to Sri Lanka visited the Commander of the Jaffna security force, General Priyantha Perera last week, where gifts were also exchanged between the parties, days before the UN Human Rights Council was set to meet.

A Sri Lankan military website claimed "the Ambassador of Switzerland and his first secretary (Political Affair) Mrs. Sidonia Gabrial and other official were surprised when they were aware of the relation between people of the Jaffna peninsula and Sri Lanka Army".

The visit came weeks after major protests were staged across the Tamil homeland in the Pottuvil to Polikandy justice march, where up to 50,000 people attended. A key demand of the march was to call for the removal of Sri Lankan military forces from the North-East and to end the militarisation of the Tamil homeland. Since the end of the armed conflict the Sri Lankan military has taken an aggressive stance in involving itself in civilian affairs. Military run schools, businesses and factories are ever present across the North-east and have fostered a culture of fear amongst the Tamil people.

Surveillance and harassment are routine by the Sri Lankan military. Last week a Tamil youth from Vadamaradchi was beaten and hospitalised by Sri Lankan intelligence officers. All branches of the Sri Lankan military stand accused of committing war crimes, including Perera who was an active commander, leading the 631 Infantry brigade during the final stages of the armed conflict which saw tens of thousands of Tamil civilians indiscriminately killed by state forces.

Last month Priyantha Perera invited accused war criminal Shavendra Silva to be the chief guest of honour in the opening of a 100ft Buddhist stupa in Jaffna. The Sri Lankan military facilitates colonisations schemes across the Tamil homeland, it is common for the military to build Buddhist viharas near on in military bases which are on occupied Tamil land.

Last month an ancient Hindu-Saiva shrine in Mullaitivu was demolished and a Buddhist vihara erected in its place. A ceremony was attended by a larger number of military personnel. The Saiva temple in question situated on Tamil land had been under intense pressure from state-sponsored Sinhala colonisation schemes.  

Read more at Sri Lanka's Jaffna military website -  'Civil military cooperation'.


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