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SL army divisions blacklisted for war crimes

He said the armed forces too should get an opportunity to answer the accusations directed at them.

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Colombo: Sri Lankan army divisions involved in crushing the Tamil Tigers in a war that also claimed the lives of thousands of civilians have been blacklisted by the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), the media reported on Tuesday.

The Island newspaper on Tuesday quoted Foreign Minister Ali Sabry as saying that “entire fighting divisions which were deployed on the front during 2006-09” had been “blacklisted” on the basis of findings by the Geneva-based UNHRC.

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He called it a move to tarnish Sri Lanka’s image.

The Minister said so when The Island asked him how President Wickremesinghe’s government intended to counter an attempt by a section of the international community to adopt punitive measures against senior military personnel including Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka and Chief of Defence Staff General Shavendra Silva.

The issue came up at a media briefing called by the Foreign Ministry to explain the staff-level agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) over a $2.9 billion loan for Sri Lanka and the forthcoming Geneva sessions of UNHCR.

A Sri Lankan official also made a reference to obstacles faced by the military in undertaking missions under UN command “due to unsubstantiated allegations directed at them”.

Asked if the US denied a visa to former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa over his role as the wartime Defence Secretary, Minister Sabry said he was not aware of such a situation.

The Minister stressed that Sri Lanka was ready to form a Truth-Seeking Commission to address the grievances of those who suffered during the conflict.

He said the armed forces too should get an opportunity to answer the accusations directed at them.

Human rights groups say that up to 40,000 innocent civilians, predominantly Tamils, were killed in the end stages of the Tamil separatist campaign in Sri Lanka’s north which led to the military defeat of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

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