Well Deserved Promotions to War Heroes
By Lakshman I. Keerthisinghe
“Brave men rejoice in adversity just as brave soldiers triumph in war”
– Lucius Aurelius Seneca- Roman philosopher, statesman and, dramatist,
Defence Secretary Major General (Rtd) Kamal Gunaratne and Army Commander Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva were promoted to the rank of General by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
Both General Gunaratne and General Silva were actively involved in the defeat of the LTTE. General G.D.H. Kamal Gunaratne, has a distinguished military career of over 35 years and has held many key appointments in all areas of defence and civil - Military Coordination. He assumed duties as the Secretary of the Defence Ministry on 20 November, 2019. He also served as the Deputy Ambassador in Brazil from 2012 to 2015. General Shavendra Silva has been serving as the Commander of the Sri Lanka Army since August 2019. He is also the Chief of Defence Staff, appointed in early 2020. Currently, he also serves as the Head of the National Operations Centre for Prevention of COVID-19 Outbreak (NOCPCO).
Earlier, a record number of more than 14,000 Army officers were promoted in keeping with National War Heroes’ Day on 19 May 2020 “…granting of long-awaited but inspiring promotions, would inevitably serve a motivating fillip to their untiring, dedicated and life-threatening ongoing national services,” the army said in a statement.
According to the Army, these promotions came into effect on 18 May 2020 and would be recorded as the ‘biggest ever share of promotions’ granted in a single day by the Army. The Army said that 14,617 army personnel serving in other ranks across all Army Regiments were promoted to their next rank. In 2019, the Army promoted 7,210 personnel in keeping, with National War Heroes Day.
Sometime back the United States barred Sri Lanka’s Army Chief, then Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva, from entering the country over accusations of human rights violations including unproven alleged extrajudicial killings in 2009 during the country’s civil war, as stated by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo under the now defeated Trump Administration.“The allegations of gross human rights violations against Shavendra Silva, documented by the United Nations and other organisations, are serious and credible,” Pompeo said in a statement .U.S. sanctions imposed by Washington bar both Army Commander then , then Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva, and his immediate family members from entering the United States. Review its decision and said there were ‘no substantiated or proven allegations Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Foreign Relations called on Washington to provide substantial evidence, if any, of human rights violations against him.’
“The Government of Sri Lanka takes strong objection to the imposition of travel restrictions on Lt. Gen. Silva and his immediate family members by the Government of the United States, based on independently unverified information,” the Ministry said in a statement. Then Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva’s appointment as Army Commander of the Island Nation in August drew sharp criticism from the United States and the United Nations, which later suspended the Sri Lankan Army from its peacekeeping operations.
In this regard for years Lord Naseby has defended the reputation of Sri Lanka, specifically regarding conduct during the nearly-thirty-years-long civil war/ Sir Michael Morris, known formally as Lord Naseby, has long been an ally to Sri Lanka in the West. During a parliamentary debate aimed at assessing Sri Lanka’s progress toward meeting the requirements for reconciliation established by the UNHRC, Lord Naseby came to Sri Lanka’s defence insisting that the West ‘must remove the threat of war crimes and foreign judges that hovers over all Sri Lankans.’
Lord Naseby claimed an observer said to him in January 2009 that “he was surprised at the controlled discipline and success of Sri Lankan Army and in particular the care that it was taking to encourage civilians to escape and how well they were looked after, and that certainly there was no policy to kill civilians.” “I hope and pray that the UK will recognise the truth that no one in the Sri Lankan Government ever wanted to kill Tamil civilians. Furthermore, the UK must now get the UN and the UNHCR in Geneva to accept a civilian casualty level of 7,000 to 8,000, not 40,000,”
In conclusion, Baroness Caroline Cox, echoed the statements made by Lord Naseby regarding the progress made by the current Government. She concluded “I fully support the appeal made by the noble Lord, Lord Naseby, to Her Majesty’s Government to offer a hand of friendship and appropriate support to Sri Lanka and its President as he seeks to implement his commitments to bring healing, hope and peace to a Nation and a people who have suffered too much for too long.”
Finally truth will triumph.
The writer is an Attorney-at-Law with LLB, LLM, MPhil.(Colombo)[email protected]