By Supun Dias
Major General Shavendra Silva who is Sri Lanka’s deputy permanent representative to the UN, in an exclusive interview to the Daily Mirror, shared his thoughts on the the latest Channel-4 video and the allegations levelled against the security forces.
Q: In the newest Channel- 4 video they accuse you for taking orders to execute some of the people who have surrendered. What is your response to these allegations?
In the latest Channel-4 video a person called Fernando is accusing me and the Defence Secretary that orders were given to me to execute some of the people who had surrendered. This is a personal attack on Defence Secretary and me as the first Killing Fields documentary failed to attain its objectives. All I can say is that they are using all kinds of elements and individuals to tarnish the image of the country and to bring disgrace to the soldiers including those who sacrificed their lives to defeat the LTTE.
Q: The person by the name of Fernando claims to be a soldier. Was there any person by the name of Fernando in your division?
Yes, they are referring to a person by the name Fernando in their newest video. Whatever the orders given by me as the head of the 58th Division to my brigade commanders and commanding officers, there was no such person called Fernando among them. Also none of the officers or other rankers attached to my division fled at the end of the war. Fernando also went on to say that he saw bodies without heads and people who were hacked to death.
The media was there and the soldiers were there. I assure as an officer who was in the battlefront from the start until the end, none of them witnessed such things during the battle. He also says that four days before the war ended he went to the beach for a meeting that was conducted by me.
Q: Tell us about the encounter you had with the Channel-4 journalists in New York when you were on your way to the Sri Lankan mission?
They were after me for a long time to question me about these allegations. I was confronted in New York by them and they have gone to say that I gave them an interview for one minute. First I gave them an interview in the street as soon as I got down from my vehicle and then a short while later I took them to my UN office. I was talking to them for nearly 40 minutes. My escort also recorded the interview I gave them. I have sent the video footage to the local media. In the newest video, 80 per cent to 90 per cent of the time Channel-4 is accusing me for conducting the executions.
Q: What was your response to them regarding the newest video they released which contained accusations of two men who label you for taking orders to execute some of the LTTE cadres who had surrendered?
When we challenged them just after they aired the first video they literally had no comeback after we pointed out their many fundamental flaws and biased opinions. There were no unofficial orders given to my brigade commanders or commanding officers attached to the 58th Division. The two men in the video also say that they witnessed people been hacked to death. This is clearly a film and we question Channel-4 about the credibility of the video.
They also mentioned that I am a retired officer now. They were not aware that I am still in the military service even though I am a diplomat now. Therefore the purpose of Channel-4 in airing such videos was to disgrace and tarnish the image of the security forces.