Sri Lanka official drops bombshell on pseudo war heroes
COLOMBO – Sri Lanka’s Defence ministry Secretary Monday deflated so-called “war heroes” (ranaviruvo) saying that only those with officially recognized medals could claim the prestigious honour and fellow citizens not to use the term loosely.
Hemasiri Fernando told a ceremony at his old high school Nalanda College, Colombo, that officers and soldiers who were gazetted as recipients of “ranaviru” medals could be addressed as “ranaviruvas.”
He urged the Buddhist clergy and other leaders not to misuse the term as it was devaluing the contribution of nearly 40,000 security personnel who were entitled to the recognition out of over half a million personnel who served in the tri forces.
“There are only about 39,000 ranaviruvo in the country – 34,000 in the army, 4,400 in the navy and 868 in the air force,” Fernando said. Even a recruit soldier with three months of service was erroneously calling himself a “ranaviruva,” he added.
He said he brought the issue of terminology to President Maithripala Sirisena after he took over the highest administrative position in the ministry of defence which is also responsible for managing the police.
– Murderer is not a war hero –
Fernando said the authorities were about to indict 11 security personnel in connection with one of the most gruesome murders that took place during the war. Indictments will be served within two weeks, he said without elaborating.
However, he said any security personnel involved in murder could not be regarded a war hero.
“When within two weeks we indict these 11 security personnel, the diaspora will not be able to accuse us of sheltering those responsible for atrocities. I urge them, if they have evidence, I am sure they must have, then we can prosecute others too.”
Several investigations into mass murder are continuing and more than 10 navy personnel have been implicated in the abduction and murder of 11 young men between 2008 and 2009. Two navy admirals have been implicated in a cover up.
The current Chief of Defence Staff Ravindra Wijegunaratne is on bail after being arrested for trying to protect the main accused in the mass murder. (COLOMBO, January 21, 2019)
Jehan Perera - Executive Director National Peace Council