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* Sri Lankan envoy rejects criticism over appointment of former military commander at Manus Island
Tue, Feb 25, 2014, 12:32 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Feb 25, Colombo: Sri Lankan High Commissioner to Australia, Admiral Thisara Samarasinghe has rejected the criticism by the human rights activists that it was inappropriate for a former Sri Lankan military commander to manage the Australian detention center on Manus Island where Tamil asylum seekers are being held.

A former military officer reported to be of the Sri Lankan Army, Dinesh Perera, has been working for the security firm G4S as the acting manager of operations at the camp on Manus Island.

Speaking to the ABC Radio network of Australia High Commissioner Samarasinghe said the bringing out just a name of a person saying ex-Sri Lankan military is out of context and it is a biased way of trying to bring Sri Lanka into the center.

"Sri Lankan military is highly professional, well trained, disciplined, brave, and bringing out just a name of a person saying ex-Sri Lankan military is absolutely out of context, bringing out such information is a biased way of trying to bring Sri Lanka into a picture with no relevance in this instance," High Commissioner told the ABC radio.

The Director of Advocacy and Research at the Australian Human Rights Law Centre, Emily Howie, has said that there are about 30 ethnic Tamil asylum seekers in the camp who may be fleeing persecution by the Sri Lankan military and having an ex-Sri Lankan military person as a manager is inappropriate.

When told by the interviewer Peter Lloyd that it was probably inappropriate for a former military commander from a source country for refugees like Sri Lanka to be the guardian of Sri Lankan asylum seekers, the Admiral Samarasinghe pointed out that the Sri Lankan military protected 300,000 civilians who were held as a human shield by the Tamil Tiger terrorists.

"Sri Lankan military protected 300,000 civilians who were kept under gunpoint by LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) and we rescued - the Sri Lankan military rescued 300,000 from the terrorists and we looked after them, 300,000, within three weeks were rescued. Defeated LTTE still campaigning for separatism in my country," he said.

The international security services firm that employed Mr. Perera has told the ABC that he is not in charge of the detention center in Manus Island.

"Mr Dinesh Perera is an Operations Manager at the Manus Island Centre; he is not in charge of the Centre. He is an Australian citizen who has worked for G4S for a number of years in other contracts before taking on a role with the Manus Island contract. He is appropriately qualified for his role. It is our policy not to comment on the ethnicity or race of our employees," the G4S has said.

According to Mr. Perera's LinkedIn profile, he has been working in Australia in various capacities since 2004.

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