Local News Update: Yesterday, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa promised to rectify the humiliation and injustice to which the Sri Lankan Armed Forces have been subjected over the past five years and to provide redress where appropriate.
He also pledged to take global steps to restore the respect and dignity that they owe to our armed forces.
The Prime Minister made these observations as the chief guest at yesterday’s Nelum Pokuna Mahinda Rajapaksa Theater Graduation Ceremony of the Defense Services Command and Staff School.
He said the intelligence service members were abused, threatened, and imprisoned on false charges by the previous government. This situation had to be faced not only by the intelligence services. During the war against the LTTE, the entire high command of the Armed Forces was put before the police with a lot of media ads to respond to all sorts of allegations.
“The wartime Secretary of Defense, two Chiefs of Defense Staff, two Army Commanders, four Navy Commanders, two Air Force Commanders, the National Intelligence Chief, and very senior Army, Police, STF, and Navy officers were among those embarrassed in this way.
Some were even brought to court for times ranging from a couple of weeks to over a year. The idea was to create in the minds of Sri Lankans and the international community the illusion that our armed forces were not war heroes, but criminals and murderers, “said the prime minister.
He also said that in this way no government of any country in the world has embarrassed its own Armed Forces. The Armed Forces are the nation’s protectors.
“The January 2015 government change was almost as if Sri Lanka had been invaded and taken over by a hostile foreign force,” said Prime Minister Rajapaksa.
“A comprehensive program was launched to harass and demoralize the Armed Forces, intimidate the Maha Sangha and cow the majority community into submission and obtain what could not be achieved through almost four decades of civil war through dirty politics,” he charged.
The Prime Minister further accused the previous government of going to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva and co-sponsored a resolution against Sri Lanka, agreeing to hold war crimes trials against members of the Armed Forces with the involvement of foreign judges and prosecutors, among other issues. “Today, the people of this country have elected a president with an overwhelming mandate to rectify the injustices of the past five years,” added the prime minister.
“We all know that our Armed Forces work on different fronts at international level. There are instances where some foreign parties object to our Armed Forces promotions. No sovereign country would tolerate any foreign interference in its Armed Forces ‘ internal affairs, “he added.
Prime Minister Rajapaksa said the current government was elected to power to protect Sri Lanka’s national sovereignty and national security, and we will do whatever it takes to achieve that aim. It took military hardware and pitched battles with a terrorist army to overcome the challenge we faced in the form of the LTTE. The new situation we face includes intelligence operations, coordination with international intelligence agencies, and some tactical measures in foreign policy.
“We, the political authorities, will provide leadership to the Sri Lankan Armed Forces to achieve the goal of maintaining a sovereign Sri Lanka’s national security. That’s our commitment to the Sri Lankan armed forces and people, “he said.
The Prime Minister said the national sovereignty and national security of the country are under threat.
“The country witnessed the Easter Sunday suicide bombings carried out by an extremist Islamic group with just days to go to the tenth anniversary of the victory against the LTTE. We are a small island nation relative to most Asian countries. But on a small scale, nothing seems to happen here, “he said.
“Sri Lanka was the world’s most extreme war scene in the late 1980s, with violent uprisings in both the north and south. Then we had to fight with the deadliest terrorist group in the world with the ability to perform full-scale ground operations as well as sea and air attacks. We had the Easter Sunday bombings this year, which was the deadliest terrorist attack on civilian targets in Asia. Even though this is a small country, the challenges facing us are not small at all, “said Prime Minister Rajapaksa.
The Prime Minister stressed that while there were no Indians among the 2008 Mumbai attackers, all the suicide bombers of Easter Sunday were Sri Lankans, the country must take serious note of the fact. This is a threat that must be controlled not just for the sake of Sri Lanka, but for the well-being of all other nations in the region. India warned on at least two occasions this year because of intelligence that Sri Lankan Islamic terrorists are attempting to enter India by sailing.
“If we don’t get to the top of the situation, all neighboring countries, including India, the Maldives, Bangladesh, and even further afield countries such as Myanmar, Thailand, and Malaysia, will be at risk. So it will be necessary to contain this new terrorist threat by whatever means it takes. Countries in our immediate neighborhood and beyond know the danger well and we can expect their full cooperation in this regard, “said the Prime Minister.
Prime Minister Rajapaksa also added that this new threat at this point requires primarily intelligence operations, unlike the war against the LTTE which involved land, sea and air operations. Sadly, the intelligence services have been made completely inoperative over the past five years.