COLOMBO: Sri Lanka’s Foreign Ministry said on Sunday that the US decision to ban the country’s top commander “unnecessarily” complicates ties between the two countries.
The statement was issued after Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena summoned US Ambassador Alaina B. Teplitz to the ministry on Sunday and raised “strong objections” to the move.
The US government on Friday issued a travel ban on the army chief, Shavendra Silva, saying that there was “credible information of his involvement” in human rights violations during the final phase of the war. The ban prohibits Silva and his family from traveling to the US.
Sri Lanka has denounced the ban, and on Sunday Gunawardena reiterated that “there were no substantiated or proven allegations of human rights violations against him (Silva),” according to the statement.
He urged Washington to verify the authenticity of its sources and advised the State Department to reconsider its decision on the matter.
The minister said that Silva was appointed as commander of the army by the-then head of state, taking into account his seniority and that there were no substantiated or proven allegations of human rights violations against him. His elevation as the acting chief of defense staff by the current head of state, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, was due to his seniority.
Ambassador Teplitz said that she would convey Colombo’s concerns to Washington and reiterated her country’s continued commitment to collaboration with Sri Lanka, including in the field of defense.
Sri Lanka’s armed forces crushed separatist rebels in 2009 in a no-holds barred offensive that ended a decades-long war that killed 100,000 people.
There were mass atrocities against civilians in Sri Lanka’s predominantly Tamil north, with rights groups saying that about 40,000 ethnic Tamils were killed by government forces.