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Aug 13, 2017

Sri Lanka military in Rwanda for post genocide study tour

Sri Lanka itself accused of committing genocide against Tamils have sent a top team of military officers to Rwanda to study how the African nation is reconciling in the aftermath of a genocide that killed an estimated million Tutsis.

The sixteen-member Sri Lanka delegation led by the chief coordinator of the Sri Lanka Defence Services Command and Staff College is visiting Rwanda from 09 to 22 August 2017.

Rwanda ministry of defence quoted the head of the delegation Colonel Kisthsiri Ekanayake saying that Sri Lanka has also undergone a ‘period of calamity’ and thus needs to learn from Rwanda’s recovery.

Colonel Ekanayake who led the 11th Sri Lanka Light Infantry Battalion under 58th Division during the final offensive in Vanni was later appointed as the commander of the 661 Infantry Brigade based in Pooneryn.

A Panel of Experts appointed by the UN Secretary General had linked the 58th division to potential war crimes including the killings of the surrendered leaders of LTTE's political wing.

'Avoid recurrence of Genocide'

The Sri Lankan delegation had also visited Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre to pay respect to the Victims of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi minority. The Memorial is the final resting place for more than 250,000 victims of the 1994 Genocide.

After a guided tour to the Memorial, the head of the delegation said that the international community should work together to avoid the recurrence of Genocide elsewhere in the world.

“All of us being humans and when we see this type of tragedy, it is very hard to understand to every one of us. But as humans it is our duty and responsibility to fight against such things to happen again in any nation or in our country”, Colonel Ekanayake has said.

“Rwandan Defence Forces was established right after the 1994 Genocide. Within a period of 23 years, they developed professionally and made unique achievements that we can learn from.”

Colonel Ekanayake flanked by the visiting officers paid a floral tribute genocide victims.

Rwandan President Paul Kagame was also complimented by the Sri Lankan Colonel, in his speech.

“We so much appreciate the leadership of HE Paul Kagame and the effort to develop the country” he said.

Kagame led the armed resistance of the Tutsi minority as the commander of the Tutsi rebel army Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), which ended the majoritarian Hutu rule in 1994.

Bremen Tribunal

Brigadier General Fedinand Safari, the Director General of Policy and Strategy at the Rwandan Ministry of Defence has welcomed the Sri Lankan step towards learning from a nation that has undergone the horrifying experience of Genocide.

“Doors are open to everyone who wants to learn from us in the same way we also learn from others,” Brigadier General Safari has told the Sri Lanka military delegation.

A tribunal of 11 eminent judges sitting in Bremen in 2014 unanimously found the Sri Lankan government guilty of the crime of genocide against ethnic Tamil people.

Sri Lanka denies the charges.

A UN internal report in 2012 found that the world body failed to protect Sri Lanka Tamils from a massacre showing that the UN hasn't learned from past tragedies such as the genocide in Rwanda.

In just 100 days in 1994, almost a million people were slaughtered in Rwanda by extremist ethnic Hutu regime. They were targeting members of the minority Tutsi community, as well as their political opponents, irrespective of their ethnic origin.

(By Indika Gamage – jdslanka.org)

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