Daily News Editorial
Former Minister and JO stalwart turned leader of the newly formed “pohottuwa” party Prof. G.L. Peiris is in overdrive these days. Perhaps he has taken his new duties as leader of a political party to heart and is working round the clock to justify the position. Peiris has taken exception to a remark by former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, which he says, compromises our armed forced to the international community, read Geneva. He says although the Army had refuted the claim made by CBK that its men had sexually exploited Tamil women during the war and is still at it, it is the government who ought to counter this claim. He accused CBK, who introduced him to politics and brought him to parliament on the National List, for betraying the security forces of the country by her irresponsible comments as the former Commander-in-Chief of the country.
(Cartoon googled and added by TW) The former President, may, or may not be, privy to information that supports her claim that the security forces in fact did act against their training and discipline. Although information coming from the North during the height of the war was sketchy there were also rumours afloat about Army excesses that were duly denied by the military establishment, like now. But some incidents indeed became public, despite the Army’s efforts to suppress them. The Krishanti Kumaraswamy matter stands out in this connection, where several army officers were arraigned and convicted for the heinous crime. The Kumaratunga administration, particularly Minister Mangala Samaraweera who was in the forefront of the reconciliation drive through his Sudu Nelum movement should be commended for taking steps to punish the offenders and not sweep the matter under the carpet.
One cannot recall Peiris, who too was a Minister in that government, making a pitch for the armed forces and blaming CBK then for betraying the country’s war heroes, although the case was reported internationally. Neither was there any public outcry for penalizing war heroes.
Because, as any sane person knows, armies anywhere in the world are not squeaky clean or infallibly. One could expect the good and as well as the worst from any army, as history records. Invading German armies are known to have committed the most heinous atrocities in the occupied countries, and equally, the Allies too went on the rampage committing rape and plunder in the territories under its control. American forces in Iraq even went to the extent of burning copies of the Holy Koran while carrying out massacres of non combatants. It is not in any way suggested here that our armed forces deliberately engaged in any atrocity of such magnitude. But as anyone knows all wars are dirty and the Northern theatre cannot be an exception. If any person is suggesting that nothing untoward took place and that our soldiers fought the war according to Queensbury Rules that person is living in Utopia. It is in this context that CBK expressed her views.
Be that as it may, Peiris who has taken exception to our war heroes being betrayed to the international community was not exactly particular about the feelings of our fighting men in the battlefield when he was a Minister in the 2001-2004 United National Front Government.
Peiris, it was, who led the Lankan delegation to “peace talks” in world capitals with LTTE members of the calibre of Anton Balasingham, Thamilselvam and Karuna Amman, the last, allegedly responsible for the butchering of a bus load of samaneras and the cold blooded gunning down of 600 policemen in the East. Peiris had also no qualms in sitting alongside in Cabinet with the selfsame Karuna Amman, when, in a different avatar, the latter shed his Tiger fatigues and joined Mahinda Rajapaksa.
Peiris also thought nothing of compromising the armed forces when he kept mum while the soldiers were confined to barracks and the LTTE were allowed to carry out “political work” during the “peace talks” with Tiger cadres passing by these barracks cocking a snook at our war heroes who were watching helpless. The former law professor also did not care a whit for the safety of the security forces, for whom he is now showing great concern, and maintained a deafening silence when the LTTE was allowed to install its heavy weapons at Manirasakulam, trained at the security forces camps in Trincomalee. Peiris, whose heart is bleeding today for the fate that awaits the security forces due to the irresponsible comment made by his former political benefactor, also remained dumb when the greatest betrayal of the forces was committed, by the exposure of the Army’s Deep Penetration Unit in the Millennium City which resulted a breakdown of this vital covert operation.
The former External Affairs Minister should know better than to cast remarks that will assail his credibility. But then, as a politician who had switched parties as often as he has done and even crossed over to the Rajapaksa camp while he was a National List member of the UNP, credibility is fast becoming an alien concept to this academic turned politician.