Dons have got it all wrong – a reply
By REAR ADMIRAL (DR.) SARATH WEERASEKERA VSV RWP USP
(Courtesy of The Island)
The Island of July 12, 2018, published a communiqué issued by a group of academics condemning certain “statements” made by a group, led by “ex-military” personnel.
They complain that the said military personnel have made the following statements.
- Those who are supportive of a new constitution are considered as traitors acting against the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka and such individuals should be held accountable for their treacherous acts in a court of law and punished with death.
- The chairperson of HR commission, Dr. Deepika Udagama, is preventing the Sri Lanka military personnel from joining the UN peace keeping force and she is determined to undermine the Sri Lankan military.
The 54 academics who have signed this petition say that the above statements amount to threats leveled at all public officials/academics, etc., who subscribe to political opinions different to those who utter such statements. They say that such statements, which are hateful, amounts to threats that endanger human life and are thus punishable under the law.
Since I am one of the ex-military personnel who addresses the media criticizing the proposed new constitution and Dr. D. Udugama of HRCSL for preventing military personnel from joining the peacekeeping forces, I consider it is my duty to respond to these academics.
My focus, in these media conferences, was not about politics but about the “war heroes” and the “unitary” character of the country. I deal only with the people who unnecessarily harass/penalize war heroes and those who lobby to federate/divide the country, which the war heroes have protected at huge cost. I have never criticized people for subscribing political opinions different to mine. In fact, there are many people from different political parties who subscribe to my views on the above matter.
In the war conducted to preserve the “unitary” character of the country by denying the LTTE achieve its objective, 29,000 war heroes made the supreme sacrifice for the motherland and 14,000 were critically wounded. In such a situation if attempts are made to “penalize” the war heroes who “survived” and an attempt is made to “divide” the country, naturally as an officer who was in active service for 39 years, I have the right to respond.
The proposed constitutional amendments cannot be analyzed here. But it need to be said that if it is approved and implemented, it would result in the country ending up with nine fully independent states. This is what the LTTE wanted to achieve. What Prabhakaran could not achieve through terror, is sought to be given on a platter through these political constitutional reforms! If that happens, what about the commitment made by the forces sacrificing their lives, eyes /limbs and freedom?
Dr. Udagama is the chairperson of Human Rights Commission, nominated by TNA MP Sampanthan and PM Ranil Wickremesinghe, who commands the majority in the Constitutional Council. All military personnel nominated by Army Headquarters (AH) for peacekeeping missions overseas are to be whetted by the HRCSL. The AHQ had recommended Colonel Wasantha Hewage, a highly decorated officer, as the Contingent Commander for the peacekeeping mission in Lebanon, and he was to take up his position in Feb 2018. He had actively taken part in the last battle in Kilinochchi and has been awarded seven Rana Wickrama and Rana Soora gallantry medals for bravery in the face of the enemy. The moment he was nominated, several pro-LTTE NGOs petitioned the UN not to grant him permission. Since Dr. Deepika Udagama took up office and since AH has sent 49 men to Lebanon (without going through HRCSL) not a single Army officer/soldier has been cleared by the HRC to date, notwithstanding the fact that the contingent was expected to be in Lebanon on 6th March 2018. It is believed that the HRC is not going to give clearance to anyone who was in any of the Divisions actively taking part in the last battle or anyone awarded with gallantry medals. The conduct of Dr. Deepika to date confirms that what she believes is exactly what the pro-LTTE NGO’s demand.
Peacekeeping missions help the army personnel to get international exposure and earn some extra money. That opportunity is deprived by the HRC to a group of men just because they played an active role in the war! Is, fighting with an enemy risking their own lives to protect the citizens, a crime, to be punished by an HR activist nominated by the leader of the TNA, the proxy of LTTE, and the Prime Minister who had his own reservations about the war? This long unacceptable delay in giving clearance to war heroes has been earlier reported in The Island newspaper too.
If Dr. Deepika suspects that the above men had committed war crimes, I kindly request her to study the seven reports rendered by six International war crime experts (Sir Desmond De Silva, Sir Jeffry Nice, Prof. Michael Crane, Rodney Dikson QC, Major General John Holms) to the Paranagama Commission. They have cleared all our forces of state-sponsored war crimes, and quite reliably rejected the Darusman report in its totality. They have also praised the Army for winning a decisive battle whilst saving 295,000 innocent Tamil civilians, which is considered the largest hostage rescue operation, carried out by any Army so far in the world!
Dr. Udagama is also a promoter of the Office of Missing Persons Act and Enforced Disappearance International Convention Act. These two Acts would facilitate to collect false evidence against war heroes and subject them to foreign judicial powers and to ICC jurisdiction. (How it is done can be explained in detail if anyone wishes to know). She also insists on repealing the PTA. All the pro-LTTE NGOs and the Global Tamil Forum too welcome the OMP and insist on repealing PTA.
On constitutional reforms, the Human Right Commission has recommended to the Sub Committee on National and Public security, that a state of emergency should be declared ONLY when the “emergency should be of a magnitude so as to affect the whole country not just part of it” and “that the very existence of a nation has to be threatened”, and it goes on to state that the “emergency must be actual or at least imminent, it cannot be of a preventive nature”. That means even if fighting begins between the government forces and the LTTE again in the North, emergency cannot be declared if the fighting has not spread to the entire country. Also the HRC does not want the government to use emergency as a preventive measure. Anyone would know as to who will benefit by such a proposal.
People can still remember how, in the Jaffna University, a gang of Tamil students led by a pro-LTTE gangster, last year, mercilessly assaulted a group of Sinhalese students. The National Joint Committee had reported that to the HR Commission to inquire and take appropriate actions. However, Dr. Deepika’s HRC has been dead silent and has not done anything in that regard to date. Was it because the victims were Sinhalese?
There is a misinterpretation on what I have mentioned about the death penalty. I have been awarded the Vishishta Seva Vibhushana medal for exemplary conduct and will never threaten anyone with death, which is a cowardly act. All what I said was that anyone who ill-treats war heroes who protected this country, which is today safe, and supports a separatist constitution, commits a crime against the motherland, which amounts to treason. Whoever who comes to power next should file cases against such people through the AG charging them for treason. Treason, if proved beyond any reasonable doubt, in courts, is an offence punishable by death in any country. Therefore, it is not Sarath Weerasekera who prosecutes, conducts a trial and punishes, but the learned judges in the courts. Then how can statements to that effect be called pernicious or incendiary in nature?
The LTTE was one of the worst human rights violators in the world, and we have never heard Dr. Udagama, or any of her human right activists, condemning the LTTE atrocities during that period. By defeating the LTTE at a huge cost, the war heroes have protected the human rights of all the citizens in the country, including the academics who have signed this petition and their families. If a soldier or an officer has erred, then let him be charged and punished as per the law of the country, and we have no objections. However, if people try to penalize them for crushing terrorism and bringing peace to the country, then such people have to answer to the public at a future date if not today.