On 14 February, two days ago, US Secretary of State Pompeo officiously announced that the United States had designated Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva, current Commander of the Sri Lanka Army and Acting Chief of Defence Staff, and his immediate family members. The public designation makes them ineligible for entry into the US.
Pompeo then went on to claim it was refusing the Army Chief entry into the US as it had ‘credible’ evidence of human rights violations in the bloody finale to the civil war.
We do not contest the right of the US to refuse entry to its shores to whomever it is displeased with Pompeo and his impeached boss Trump, are even now involved in driving away civillians from Latin American countries attempting to enter the US. These people are fleeing persecution at the hands of dictatorial regimes backed the US.
But why this bellicose naming and shaming?
The Daily Mirror certainly does not subscribe to gross violations of human rights. In fact we have continued to stand up to numerous attempts to cutail this basic right, and numerous members of our staff have paid the ultimate price for standing up for this very right.
We agree human rights violators should be punished for their crimes. Yet we owe it to ourselves, the victims of these dastardly crimes and the world in general that it is the actual perpetrator of the crime who is punished and that public postures are not merely to portray oneself as a human rights defender.
For instance during the closing stages of world War II the US atom bombed civillian targets in the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This was at a time Japan was on the brink of surrender. Official statistics show the bombs immediately devastated their targets. Over the next two to four months, the acute effects of the atomic bombings killed between 90,000 and 146,000 people in Hiroshima and 39,000 and 80,000 people in Nagasaki; roughly half of the deaths in each city occurred on the first day.
Even today, the US refuses to even apologise to the people of Japan for this crime. To rub salt in the wounds, or spit in the face of the Japanese the US continues to maintain it largest military bases in Japan, despite the Japanese people themselves openly protesting the bases and demanding US withdrawal from the same.
In Afghanistan, the Cost of WarProject estimated that the number who have died through indirect causes related to the war may be as high as 360,000. US military action in Afghanistan continues to date. In Iraq, the Iraq Body Count project documents 183,348 - 205,908 violent civilian deaths through April 2019. So why in the face of all these mass killings of civillians by the US military itself, is the US imposing sanctions on General Shavendra Silva? This in the face of the fact that just last November, the US president pardoned three US military personnel who were convicted of war crimes in Afghanistan by US courts of law.
Gen. Silva has as yet, not been charged in any court of law, leave alone being convicted in one, despite Pompeo’s pompous claims of ’credible’ evidence. This so-called ‘credible evidence’ is as yet, mere statements issued by Non-Government Organisations. Be that as it may, while condemning human rights violations by who-so-ever commits them, we agree violators need to be tried for their crime. But a man/woman can be punished only after he or she is convicted in a court of law.
Gen. Shavendra Silva has as yet not been convicted of a crime. If his crime is that he is responsible because of the line of command, surely the then military commander is more responsible than him, or the then Defence Secretary perhaps? Or perhaps is the US smarting from military defeats from Vietnam to Afghanistan, to Iran and Iraq looking for a weak opponent. An opponent divided on the lines of race religion and ethnicity to prove to the world its ‘super power status’. Perhaps its time our political leaders took a Durtete-like stand and tell the US to take its SOFA, ACSA and MCC baggage and buzz off.