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Sri Lanka's political pardon

Published : Apr 1, 2020, 9:59 am IST
Updated : Apr 1, 2020, 9:59 am IST

Sri Lankan president Gotabaya Rajapaksa's decision to pardon the solider is not only deeply disappointing but also sends wrong signal to UN

Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa
 Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa

Sri Lanka refuses to be accountable to the world for the war crimes committed in the course of winning the war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

The decision of its president Gotabaya Rajapaksa to pardon the solider R.M. Sunil Ratnayake is not only deeply disappointing but also sends quite the wrong signal to the UN and the world that the island nation will not bow to international opinion on respecting the law against war crimes.

The hand of the Rajapaksas, who returned to power last year, is behind this decision to exonerate the only soldier of five who had been sentenced to death for a war crime in the village of Mirusuvil in December 2000 where the Sri Lankan Army had killed Tamil civilians who had returned home to the Jaffna Peninsula to see the state of their village. The decision is seen to be linked to the parliamentary polls that were to be held on April 25, but which were postponed due to the global pandemic.

How exceedingly political the brothers — President Gotabaya and Prime Minister and former President Mahinda — can be is signified in their chauvinistic support for Sinhalese soldiers and their disregard of the Human Rights Council of the United Nations that has been fighting for accountability in war crimes.

The island’s history was punctuated with extreme violence in the three decade war against the Tamil rebels of the equally brutal guerrilla force of the Velupillai Prabhkaran-led LTTE. His own death, as well as that of his elderly father and his minor son, are thought to have been
engineered in possible war crimes generally attributed to the command of Lt General Shavendra Silva, who was the Army Commander at the time of the final battle.

If the soldier had not been pardoned, he would simply have stayed in jail as the nation has suspended executions, making it clear that the Rajapaksas are using him to make a statement of political intent in this selective exoneration.

Tags: gotabaya rajapaksa
Location: Sri Lanka, Western, Colombo