Sri Lanka’s Public Security Minister Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekara, will submit to parliament a proposal to introduce mandatory military training for all citizens aged over 18-years-old, in a move that looks set to deeply entrench the militarised nature of the state.
Weerasekar speaking on Sirasa TV said
“Nobody should fear the idea of military training. It’s with military training that a man can learn to stand up straight and look a person in the eye. It builds personality, and instils leadership qualities, respect for the law, discipline, and a sense of responsibility. These are the expected outcomes. Nobody should be apprehensive of it…it is with such training that we may be able to build a law-abiding society”
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Weerasekara is a long-time supporter of the Rajapaksas and known as an 'ultranationalist'. Weerasekara has pledged to strip the 13th Amendment of the clauses that would be crucial to establishing local control and provincial councils. Previously he has said that NGOs and civil society activists should be charged with treason and sentenced to death and called for the Tamil National Alliance to be banned.
A history of crimes
All branches of Sri Lanka’s military stand accused of committing war crimes. The notorious 58 division, an army unit that committed violations of international law during the final military offensive which saw tens of thousands killed of Tamils by state forces, stands accused of committing some of the most egregious crimes. The unit which was headed by accused war criminal Shavendra Silva, who is now the army’s Chief of Staff.
In 2011, Channel 4 News interviewed an army officer on the front lines of the offensive, who told of the crimes committed by troops from the unit. He stated,
“They shot people at random, stabbed people, raped them, cut out their tongues, cut women’s breasts off. I have witnessed this with my own eyes. I saw the naked dead bodies of women without heads and other parts of their bodies. I saw a lot of small innocent children getting killed in large numbers. I saw people soaked in blood.
They could do whatever they wanted there. It was their empire.”
One of the most disturbing crimes that Silva is accused of directing is the mass murder of surrendering Tamil civilians and LTTE cadres, since dubbed the “White Flag” incident. The officer quoted Silva as telling troops on the frontline;
“This is a very decisive day for us because last night I got a call from the defence secretary. He told me that we only have a small chunk of land left to capture. Do whatever it takes, however it is done… finish it off the way it has to be done.”
Read more here : Shavendra Silva - ‘the most wanted man in Sri Lanka’