By Shamindra Ferdinando
The military yesterday expressed shock and dismay at South African member of UNSG’s Panel of Experts (PoE) Yasmin Sooka calling the wartime General Officer Commanding (GoC) of the celebrated 58 Division Maj. Gen Shavendra Silva a notorious war criminal.
The PoE comprised former Attorney General of Indonesia Marzuki Darusman, Steven Ratner of the US and Sooka.
The military pointed out that such statement by a member of high profile UN team was part of their overall project meant to force implementation of Geneva Resolution 30/1 co-sponsored by Sri Lanka in Oct 2015.
The 58 Division marched from northwestern Mannar to the final battlegrounds across the Vanni and was credited with causing maximum losses on the enemy.
In a letter to Coca Cola Company, Sooka, in her present capacity as the Executive Director, International Truth and Justice Project (ITJP) criticized the US multinational for sponsoring Gajaba Supercoss 2017 held at Saliyapura, Anuradhapura in August.
Maj Gen. Silva, the current Adjutant General is the Colonel Commandant of the Gajaba Regiment.
Sooka faulted Coca Cola for supporting the event organised by the Gajaba Regiment, accusing it of being responsible for war crimes and human rights violations over the past several decades. Citing the OHCHR Investigation on Sri Lanka, Sooka sought an explanation from Coca Cola as to how the company financed an event organised by former GoC of the 58 Division blamed for war crimes.
The military pointed out those who had spearheaded the war against the LTTE and front line fighting formations were being relentlessly pursued on the basis of unsubstantiated UN allegations not proved in a court of law. Sources pointed out that POE report had been recently challenged in House of Lords and Geneva urged to revise the much touted Vanni death toll from 40,000 to 8,000.
Sources said so far the UN hadn’t disputed the claim made by Lord Naseby that of the 8,000 one fourth were LTTE cadres.
Sources pointed out that Sooka in an obvious bid to appease her sponsors had demanded Coca Cola to cease involvement with those SLA formations and officers allegedly implicated in war crimes, take disciplinary action against those responsible for the sponsorship and apologize to people affected by SLA actions during the conflict.
Earlier Australia denied Maj. Gen. Chagi Gallage also of the Gajaba Regiment a visa over UN allegations.