Canadian MP slams Sri Lankan military role as peacekeepers

“The army occupies as much as 60,000 acres of civilian land just in the Mullaithivu district in Northern Sri Lanka, with massive camps that encroach on the daily lives of civilians. According to a report recently released jointly by Adayaalam Centre for Policy Research and People for Equality and Relief in Lanka (PEARL), the Vanni region, where much of the civilian carnage took place, has one army personnel per two civilians. There are ongoing reports of torture, rape, and suppression of journalists and human rights defenders,” he said. A Canadian member of parliament has raised objections to the Sri Lankan military being given the role of UN peacekeepers.Gary Anandasangaree, Member of Parliament for Scarborough-Rouge Park, was quoted in The Star as saying, the Sri Lankan military continues to violate the rights of Tamils in the North and East of the island. He says by inviting Sri Lanka to take part in discussions on peacekeeping without substantive progress on accountability, the UN is validating the island nation on the world stage, thereby sending the message to other despotic leaders and rogue countries that they too could violate the rights of their people without consequences. (Colombo Gazette) “Sri Lankan President Maithiripala Sirisena has recently said that he would not prosecute a single soldier who fought for his country. The Sri Lankan legal system appears unwilling and unable to handle any of these international crimes. On the other hand, the victims in Sri Lanka continue to live with the military intruding in their daily lives, while they search for justice. Similarly, the poor victims in Haiti are awaiting answers. It is with this backdrop that Sri Lanka’s invitation to be part of this noble role as International Peacekeeper is very troubling. Peacekeeping is a very complicated undertaking. Many militaries have had checkered pasts relating to peacekeeping, including our Canadian forces in Somalia,” he said.Anandasangaree noted that had Sri Lanka embraced a process of accountability and sought truth, a valid argument for engagement could have been made. He also said that the Sri Lankan Government refuses to hold any military personnel accountable for war crimes.

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