Tamils protest general’s posting

2012-11-09 00:00

TAMILS in South Africa are outraged at the appointment of Sri Lanka’s Major-General Shavendra Silva as Deputy Ambassador to South Africa.

A strongly worded protest has gone out from the the South African Tamil Federation (SATF) and its provincial bodies, as well as the local Solidarity Group for Peace and Justice in Sri Lanka (SGJP).

In a joint statement, the Tamil organisations noted that Silva led the 58th Division of the Sri Lankan Army, which according to a United Nations investigation stands accused of unlawful acts of extra­judicial killings and torture of Sri Lankan Tamils during the final stages of the war.

SGJP secretary Preggy Padayachee said that earlier this year, Silva was removed by Louise Frechette, former deputy secretary-general of the United Nations, from his post as advisor to the UN Special Advisory Group. This was in view of war crimes allegations which were levelled against him post 2009.

Padayachee said they were perturbed at South Africa’s continued support of the government of Sri Lanka, despite growing international sentiment for an independent investigation into credible allegations of war crimes against that government and its top leadership. SGJP recently protested against the visit of a South African trade delegation to Sri Lanka.

According to Padayachee, following the UN Universal Periodic Review on Thursday, November 1, 2012, Amnesty International’s expert on Sri Lanka, Yolanda Forster, said that Sri Lanka’s promises on human rights should no longer be accepted by the international community. “She said Sri Lanka had been making empty promises about human rights for decades. This was made clear by a number of countries which questioned its progress in ending human rights violations during the review,”

The local Tamil organisations said in a statement that Silva’s appointment constituted “an insult and an assault on our democratic foundation and principles … It is further a serious indictment on all peace loving South Africans if this appointment is not rescinded.”

The statement said the South African Tamil Organisations would continue to mobilise individuals concerned “to reject with contempt the appointment of Major General Silva”. It called on the government to declare Silva “persona non grata” and bar his entry to South Africa.

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