US blacklists Sri Lankan army commander, cites killings, abuses

WASHINGTON: The United States has imposed sanctions on Sri Lanka‘s army chief, Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva, for alleged human rights violations including extrajudicial killings in 2009 during the country’s civil war, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Friday.
“The allegations of gross human rights violations against Shavendra Silva, documented by the United Nations and other organizations, are serious and credible,” Pompeo said in a statement.
The sanctions imposed on Friday by Washington bar Silva and his family members from entering the United States.
Silva’s appointment as army commander of the island nation in August drew sharp criticism from the United States and the United Nations, which in September suspended the Sri Lankan army from its peacekeeping operations after he was named army chief.
Silva is credited with leading an army division against Tamil Tiger rebels in the final phases of the island nation’s 26-year-long brutal civil war, which ended in 2009.
His victory, however, was highly controversial. Thousands of civilians were killed in the last phases of the armed conflict, including in areas declared by the government to be a ‘no fire zone,’ which came under sustained army shelling, including hospitals.
A United Nations panel has accused Silva’s division of suspected extrajudicial executions of unarmed rebels in the final week of the war and systematic torture of people in custody.

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