The Sri Lanka Army said today that it would prove that Commander of its 200-strong contingent assigned to the UN peacekeeping force in Mali Lt. Col. Kalana Amunupure, was not guilty of any Human Rights abuses in the last stages of the war.
Military Spokesman Brigadier Sumith Atapattu said however that it would comply with the UN request and take steps to recall Lt. Col. Amunupure, when an official request was received.
“We have been informed that there was a request to recall the commander who is leading the UN peacekeeping contingent in Mali,” he said.
“But it was only a verbal request. We will recall the Commander according to the formalities following an official request. If the UN does not want him there, we have to recall him.
“However, we do not agree with the allegation. He has not done anything wrong. He has not committed any war crime. We will appeal and send him back,” Brigadier Atapattu said.
He said this was the second UN peacekeeping mission of Lt. Col. Amunupure.
The Brigadier said the first 200-strong Combat Convoy Company (CCC) contingent led by Lt. Col. Kalana Amunupure was scheduled to return upon completion of their one-year tenure in Mali this December.
He said 20 officers and 240 other rankers commanded by Lieutenant Colonel K.L.I. Karunanayake with Major P.G.J Suriyasena as his Second-in-Command, would undertake responsibilities in Mali as replacement for the first CCC.
Last week, the United Nations asked the Sri Lankan Government to immediately recall the commander of the Sri Lankan UN peacekeeping force in Mali following its review of his Human Rights records.
UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric announced that the request for Lt. Col. Amunupure to leave Mali was made “based on recently received information.” He gave no details.
A total of 19,000 members of the Sri Lanka Army have to-date served in UN peacekeeping missions either as Combat Troops, Military Observers (156), Staff Officers or as Assistants to Staff Officers in several parts of the world.
During their overseas duties, three Sri Lankan Peacekeepers had died during 2005 and 2007.(Darshana Sanjeewa)