Politicians oppose travel ban on Army Commander

Politicians oppose travel ban on Army Commander

Written by Staff Writer

15 Feb, 2020 | 8:38 pm

COLOMBO (News 1st):- Several factions strongly opposed the US Government’s move, to impose a travel ban on Army Commander Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva and his immediate family members, from entering the United States. Yesterday, the US Department of State issued a travel ban on Commander of Sri Lanka Army Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva over alleged gross violations of human rights during the final phase of Sri Lanka’s Civil War in 2009.

According to a release issued by the State Department “In cases where the Secretary of State has credible information that foreign officials have been involved in a gross violation of human rights or significant corruption, those individuals and their immediate family members are ineligible for entry into the United States.” Responding to the travel ban imposed on Commander of Sri Lanka Army Shavendra Silva, the Sri Lankan government said it takes strong objection to the imposition of travel restrictions based on independently unverified information.

The Government reiterated that Lt. Gen. Shavendra Silva was appointed as the 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.

Speaking on the matter, the Minister of Foreign Relations, Dinesh Gunawardena said;

“The Foreign Ministry has issued a statement saying that we do not respect the move. As the government, we are taking steps to convey our stance and act in line with the contents of our statement. The US Ambassador has been asked to come for a meeting at the Foreign Ministry tomorrow.”

Meanwhile the Chief Registrar of the Asgiriya Chapter of the Siam Sect, Ven Dr Madagama Dhammananda Thero also said;

“We do not approve foreign countries exerting pressure on our country’s soldiers and leaders. We have learned that foreign factions are attempting to achieve certain targets after their failed attempts to implement certain international agreements with us. We will not permit any attempts to exert undue influence on our countries through agreements such as SOFA. We urge to avoid being affected by these agreements. On behalf of our country, we will remain committed to stand against such forces irrespective of any differences.”

The Leader of the Opposition Sajith Premadasa in a tweet said that the imposition of a travel ban on Army Commander Shavendra Silva and his immediate family is regrettable and unfortunate. The opposition leader adds, “All of us stand by him and his family at this hour of need.”

Convener of the Voice Against Corruption, Wasantha Samarasinghe speaking on the issue says;

“If a travel ban is imposed on our army commander, I question, can the commander of the US Army travel to any country? The US forces assassinated the Iranian Major General. Are these not crimes? Our government must now say, if this travel ban is not lifted, we will cancel all agreements with the USA. The government must feel some element of shame when a foreign country imposes a travel ban on our army commander. We must save ourselves from such agreements before we fall into further trouble. They are planning to do the same thing with the Human Rights Commission.”

A couple of other parliamentarians too commented on this travel ban in various places.

UNP MP, Patali Champika Ranawaka says;

“Shavendra Silva did not fight the war owing to his personal or family problems. He acted to eliminate fear and suspicion from the country, for the country’s independent nature, and against terrorism on behalf of the people. The peace received by the people was not a result of his commitment towards his personal matters but towards the country. We will stand by him irrespective of any differences.”

Further UNP MP, Arjuna Ranatunga says;

“I feel that this should be discussed in our country rather than in the US because the US can take any decision they want. However, we should take decisions on behalf of the identity and unity of the country. Political policies can differ. However, our main objective is to protect the country as a whole.”

State Minister of Development Banking and Loan Schemes, Shehan Semasinghe said;

“Various foreign factions exerted pressure on our government. I wish to state that we will unconditionally stand on behalf of the army, police and civil security force personnel who conduct themselves on behalf of the country and the government.”

Meanwhile the State Minister of Investment Promotions, Keheliya Rambukwella said;

“Certain decisions should be made through diplomatic discussions. I saw that the statement had referred to credible war crimes. A question arises as to how it could be done in a partial manner. Therefore, I believe that the Foreign Relations Ministry will intervene adequately in this regard. This is because he is the current Army Commander. Such allegations are being made against an appointment made by a sovereign state on a national level. I believe that challenging such appointments is not a good thing to do.”


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