Aug 05, Colombo: The Commander of Sri Lanka Army Lieutenant General Mahesh Senanayake says that there is no place for war criminals in the Army and they will not be protected under the guise of war heroes.
The new Army Chief said that there were some incidents during the past regime that had brought ill repute to the Sri Lanka Army and he will not allow criminal elements taking the cover of war heroes to avoid prosecution and tarnish the image of the security forces.
"During the war, or thereafter, if anyone has used the military uniform and committed any offence, he is not a war hero. It is such people who claim that war heroes are being hounded," the Army chief said.
He added that the people should know the difference between a war hero (Rana Wiruva) and a murderer.
The Army Commander made these comments to media after meeting with the Chief Prelates of Asgiriya and Malwatta chapters yesterday in Kandy and received blessings of both prelates.
This is his first visit to Kandy after taking office as the 22nd Commander of the Army.
Lieutenant General Senanayake said the Sri Lankan army is a very disciplined group that always respect human rights and the best example for Sri Lanka Army's disciplined career is that their role in UN peacekeeping activities in various countries.
He assured that soldiers who fought in the war bravely will not be punished and will not be allowed to be penalized.
"Those who fought the war will not be punished. Not a single soldier who fought bravely has been punished, nor will they be allowed to be penalized because we have not committed any offences," he was quoted as saying.
The Army Chief who was previously the Commander, Security Forces - Jaffna, asserted that there is no problem regarding the security in the north.
He said that certain groups in the Northern Province are active, but they are not as strong as the LTTE. He further said that some people are trying to create such groups to achieve their "hypocritical and narrow" political goals.
'If you live in the North, you will understand that there is no such situation," the Army Commander said.
He further said that three army brigades have been deployed in Jaffna Peninsula alone and the Army is stationed at strategic locations to take action when necessary.
Apart from the lands around the Palaly airport, other lands under the military that are no longer needed will be handed over to the original owners and that would not pose a threat to national security, the army Commander said.
He pointed out that the necessary environment should be provided to the traditional fishermen in the North to resume their livelihoods.
He said the army has provided books for 193 students in the North, who obtained nine 'A' passes from GCE Ordinary Level examination, for their future studies.
"We are trying to get these children in to the learning process. When they understand the value of education, the next generation will not be sent again," Army Commander Lieutenant General Mahesh Senanayake further stated.