Looking for enemies where none exist

In another development, former Army Chief of Staff Major General Janaka Perera has replied to a decision taken by the Army Headquarters to ban him from entering any Army installation or camp with immediate effect.

The military banned Major General Perera and a decorated soldier, Colonel Jayavi Fernando from entering any Army camp following their remarks on the current war situation in country.

Earlier too, during President J.R. Jayewardene’s time, a similar ban was imposed on late Air Marshall Harry Gunatilleke, who wrote back to the President challenging his decision and threatening to take legal action against the President.

Here Major General Perera though had not specifically said that he would take any corrective measures but had written a long explanation stating his position. Major General Perera’s statement is reproduced below:

“I wish to respond to a special circular issued by the Army Headquarters to all military camps and bases country-wide instructing them not to allow me and Col. Jayavi Fernando (Retd), who is a much-decorated soldier, to enter their premises and instructing Army officers and other ranks not to have links with us and also instructing them to inform their families and those others not to support any of our activities, alleging that we have made certain comments through the media undermining the recent military victories, thus demoralising the forces and bloating the alleged achievements of the LTTE.

“I would like to state that since my retirement almost eight years ago, I have not visited any Army camp, but visited an Army officers’ mess on two occasions, despite being invited many times to attend functions, as an ex-senior military officer, although my heart and soul will always remain with them.

“At no stage have I demoralised the victories of our heroic soldiers of the past or the present. To me, what is important is the supreme sacrifice made by our heroic soldier, sailor, airman, policeman and auxiliary forces and to share the pain and the suffering of the families that have to eventually bear the losses.

“In all my interviews in the print and electronic media, I have highlighted this and called on all countrymen to support our heroes and assist in caring for their families. I have, also stated the importance of analysing the strength and weaknesses of our enemy and the impact on us if we are to achieve the ultimate victory which is long awaited.

“What I have stated is no different to any military analyst who bears genuine concern for our country. I believe it is my fundamental right to express my views as I have no doubt the people of our country are also concerned with the issue of this long drawn-out war against terrorism, that affects their lives almost on a daily basis.

“They have the right to information and to views of those who have fought and experienced this kind of rabid terrorism, in order to protect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of our motherland, which I feel is the collective responsibility of all our people. It is based on this genuine concern that I have expressed my views which I consider to be my duty as well my fundamental right.

“Right through my long career in the Army, spanning over three decades and over half my life, I have, together with our heroes, our valiant soldier, sailor, airman, policeman and auxiliary forces fought against separatist terrorism. I continued to oppose terrorism, both within and outside the country, in positions I have held in uniform and otherwise. As Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner to Australia and as the Country’s Ambassador to Indonesia, I faced up to the attempts made by the LTTE propagandist and extremist diaspora to discredit our country. Records will bear testimony to these facts.

“Nevertheless when we were in the battlefield we have seen ministers and senior public officials give bloated figures of success, thinking that this would give them political mileage; misleading those in authority. I sincerely hope this is not happening today, since I know it does not encourage those who have to face the battles in the field. I am of the firm opinion that we have to win the hearts and minds of the Tamil people along with the rest of the people, through genuineness and sincerity and with respect for human dignity and right, if the war against separatist terrorism is to be won.

“My intentions are therefore loud and clear and I consider the circular issued by the Army Headquarters to be malicious and defamatory and is intended to tarnish my image nationally and internationally, for reasons that are only best known to the persons who are responsible for issuing the circular.

“I wish to continue to uphold my fundamental right to freedom of expression in a country that is expected to uphold such rights as per our democratic Constitution and internationally accepted norms. I also wish to continue to feel for and want to care for the families of our valiant forces, their families and all communities who have paid the supreme sacrifice in the process of defending the sovereignty and territorial integrity of our country.

“It is with this intention that I conducted ranaviru asiri poojas at the historic Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi on April 5 to invoke the blessings on our heroic soldier, sailor, airman, policeman, auxiliary forces and their families and called upon all people to unite, shedding all differences to achieve a peaceful and stable Sri Lanka, free of terrorism and violence where all can live together in brotherhood and work towards a greater nation. Working towards such as an end I consider once again not just my inalienable right but also the duty as a patriotic citizen.

“It is my fervent hope that those responsible for issuing this circular would concentrate their effort on the battles that are raging on the war front and continue to encourage and protect our valiant soldiers, who are our strength and wealth in the tasks at hand, rather than engage themselves in negative issues in looking for enemies where none exist, which would be counterproductive. Such actions would only demoralise our valiant heroes at the battlefront, as they would feel that if this vilification could happen to two persons who have sacrificed so much for the country, what could happen to them.

“May the blessings of the noble Triple Gem be with our heroic soldier, sailor, airman, policeman, the auxiliary forces and all the people of Sri Lanka.”