Chief of Defence Staff and Commander of the Army, General Shavendra Silva, yesterday said that the Army had never meant to harm civilians enjoying their constitutional right to peacefully protest and it neither ‘hatches secret plots,’ as alleged by some social media posts.
Addressing senior officers, following a ceremony held at the Army Headquarters, at Sri Jayewardenepura, to mark the first working day of the New Year, General Silva called on all to remember firmly that as members of a professional Army, they should not be swayed by various baseless and false rumours, allegations and concocted stories.
“Ours is a force, committed to protect the State and its people, all the time, as per provisions in the Constitution. You all, as gallant soldiers of this unmatched organisation, have made enormous sacrifices at the expense of your life and limbs, spending endless days and sleepless nights in jungles for days, if not for weeks, to bring about the spirits of peace and freedom which we all are enjoying today”.
“We are holding appointments, including myself, being the most Senior Officer still serving the organisation for the sake of the safety of the country. I, myself, having received injuries while fighting for democratic rights of our people always prioritised the interests of the State and its peace-loving citizens. We are always with the people and we do not want to take any ‘stand’ as some of those speculative claims, and we never ever mete out harm or harassment to anyone, neither do we want to inconvenience anyone in anyway. We are there to assist the Police, only when our assistance is sought from us,” General Silva said.
“As you very well know, our troops valiantly move in anywhere others are unable to do so while doing everything possible to keep the country and its people safe. We do not have any hidden agendas, as propagated by some ill-informed reports, or hold any secret agendas, as claimed by some elements, with vested interests, as you have seen in the past few days. The Army is not there to hatch hidden plans or mean harm to the very people whom they have committed to protect, and those speculative and fabricated rumours reflect the mindset of those elements who are hell bent on creating further unrest among peaceful protesters,” he said.
“Even when I was engaged in the fight against LTTE’s attempts of dividing the country, certain sections, inclusive of my own close associates, were doubtful whether we could win this war against terrorism at all. Of course, in the context of a civilian, I was compelled to listen to their voices and concerns, but as a uniformed military professional, dedicated to serve the country, I am obliged to perform my duties day and night as necessitated by the State and the Constitution risking my life. This is what we are meant, for contrary to what some of those interested parties allege without any basis,” he said.