“Just as much as the US is proud of the men and women of their armed forces, so is Sri Lanka. We also have war heroes. Allegations are made against militaries of democratic countries including the US are actions taken on mere allegations,” Sri Lanka's Ambassador to the US, Rodney Perera said.
He said articulating a position on the appointment of the Army Commander of Sri Lanka, which is a sovereign decision by the Head of State, based on allegations, is regrettable and contrary to the principles of natural justice espoused by all responsible members of the international community.
The ambassador said this at the American Foreign Service Association Club in Washington D.C., to a distinguished gathering of the Serendipity Group, which included several former US Ambassadors and senior officials who served in Colombo.
He referred to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s vision "to establish an honourable governance that will allow Sri Lanka to maintain its sovereignty, security, national pride, and deal with all nations on equal terms.
The ambassador explained the strong democratic traditions of Sri Lanka including its utmost respect to democratic ideals; separation of powers; the multi-ethnic and multi-religious nature of the society. He went on to illustrate that the Sri Lankan culture is based on ancient civilization and that the form of governance the island nation had for thousands of years was drastically changed through colonialism.
He emphasised the statement by the Minister of Foreign Relations that, “Lt. Gen. Silva was one of the senior military officials who contributed significantly to liberate Sri Lanka from terrorism over a decade ago, and it is disappointing that a foreign government should question the prerogative of a democratically elected President to call upon persons of proven expertise to hold key positions on national security-related matters.”
The minister said this action unnecessarily complicates the US-Sri Lanka relationship and said
the designation of Lt. Gen. Silva is not based on independently verified information, but on the much disputed OISL Report of 2015 and other, unspecified, organizations. Sri Lanka’s position is that the United States should verify the authenticity of the sources of information. He also reiterated the sentiments of the Prime Minister’s statement on the inclusion of the family members of Lt. Gen. Silva: “Even though we are now in the 21st Century, even members of his family who have not been accused of any wrongdoing, have been subjected to a collective punishment reminiscent of the practice in medieval Europe.”
The ambassador the Sri Lankan Government will remain strongly engaged on this issue with the United States to have it review its decision.