Army Top Brass Accountable for Violations Further Up the Ladder

by Athula Vithanage, Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka, Germany, June 18, 2018

The Sri Lankan government, which continuously avoid probing military implicated in committing serious human rights violations, has once again rewarded them with plum posts.

Brigadier Deshapriya Gunawardena and Major General Duminda Keepetiwalana are those most recent recipients of military promotions.

Brigadier Gunawardena appointed as director infantry was the commanding officer of the 581 brigade, which operated under the 58th division named by the UN to be investigated for committing war crimes during the final stages of the war.

Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka

Brigadier Deshapriya Gunawardena

An internal UN report estimates at least 70,000 civilians were killed in the war that ended in 2009.

Major General Keppetiwalana, a suspect for the killing of Sunday Leader founder editor Lasantha Wickremetunge has been promoted to the post of director general infantry.

Deshapriya Gunawardena

Deshapriya Gunawardena allegedly ordered the shooting at a group of protesters in the Western province, demanding clean water when Mahinda Rajapaksa was in office.

Three, including a schoolboy was killed and 33 more were injured from the 2013 August shooting in Rathupaswala, Weliweriya.

Soon after, the Rajapaksa government posted Brigadier Gunawardena as a diplomat to Turkey in a bid to suppress investigations following local and international uproar.

Once the Brigadier returned to the island in 2017, he was arrested by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), detained in remand custody, and later released on bail.

Duminda Keppetiwalana

Major General Keppetiwalana is named as the prime suspect for the enforced disappearances of 24 Tamil youth in the North, 22 years ago, during the presidency of Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunge who now heads the Office for National Unity & Reconciliation (ONUR).

Major General Duminda Keppetiwalana

The young girls and boys have disappeared after being arrested in 1996 by soldiers from the Navatkuli army detachment in Jaffna, under his command.

In a Habeas Corpus filed in 2003, Duminda Keppetiwalana is named as the prime suspect.

The new director general infantry was arrested by the CID in 2010 January and detained for the killing of Sunday Leader Editor Lasantha Wickrematunga.

Released under bail after three months Major General Keppetiwalana left the island.

He returned in 2015, to be reinstated and promoted by the present government.

None of the cases against the new directors of the Sri Lanka army infantry have been resolved.

Major General Shavendra Silva who led the 58th division is among other military generals who have been promoted by the present government, despite allegations of violations, including war crimes


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