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Chief-of-Staff, Major General Jagath Dias

Major Gen Jagath Dias’s appointment to the post of Chief-of-Staff of the Sri Lankan Army is hailed by all patriotic Sri Lankans as recognition of peerless service rendered to the nation as a soldier who had served the Army for 35 years with distinction and the dedicated and exceptional role played in the defeat of the fascist LTTE. As the Commander of 57th Brigade, in 2007, Major General Dias’ first operation was launched in the Mannar district. He was directly responsible for infusing confidence in the troops who were demoralized after the failed earlier offensive, Major Dias  had to move among his troops and talk to the lowest foot soldier to get them into a mood to fight again”. He, in
fact,  was so successful that the 57th Brigade moved rapidly to achieve its objective.

InApril 2008, 57th Brigade liberated the Madhu shrine and handed over the sacred site to Sri Lankan Catholics after a one of the fiercest battles between the LTTE and the SL Army, in Periyatampanai, north of the Vavuniya-Mannar Road. 57th Brigade was also responsible for breaching Sinnaparatnthan-Iranamadu LTTE front along with Major General Shavendra Silva’s 58th Brigade which left open the way to capture Kilinochichi , the ‘capital’ of the LTTE,  in January 2009. It is to the credit of the 57thBrigade Commander, Jagath Dias that they avoided unnecessary casualties by carefully executing their operations. One such instance was that it took nearly nine months to wrest control of Madhu when it was merely 20 km from the starting point, from the west of Vavuniya.

While the LTTE was getting vanquished the international players along with the politicians and NGOs attempted resuscitate the dying LTTE, and once they failed in their attempts they began to tarnish the image of the heroic men and women of the Armed Forces by fabricating stories and the numbers killed by the Sri Lankan forces. The Human Rights Watch is one of very active organizations involved in this disinformation campaign in persecuting Sri Lankan defence forces and its personnel through false reports. In fact, Major General Dias had been one of their prime targets for some time for presumed human rights violations.

Sri Lanka’s war with the LTTE terrorists was no friendly game of cricket, but, the NGOs such as HRW requires one to believe that Sri Lanka won the war by killing civilians and sparing the LTTE combatants! Meantime, it is a fact that more than 20,000 men from the Defence personnel had to sacrifice their lives in their effort to reduce civilian casualties to the minimum possible. At the very end of the war 2, 80,000 Tamil civilians were saved by the SL Armed Forces from the grips of the LTTE.

TheHRW and other such organizations were given an opportunity to come out with their facts and figures concerning the war in Sri Lanka when the LLRC began their investigations. But, they declined to be present, most probably because they would have been subject to the scrutiny of the LLRC and their campaign of misinformation being exposed. The statement issued by SL Ministry of External Affairs clarified more fully the position taken by HRW.

“ON THE JOINT LETTER BY INTERNATIONAL CRISIS GROUP, AMNESTYINTERNATIONAL AND HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH _*The attention of the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) is drawn to the joint letter addressed by the International Crisis Group (ICG),Amnesty International (AI) and Human Rights Watch (HRW) on  October14, 2010, to the Secretary of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC).It is observed that the joint letter contains a series of unsubstantiated allegations against the GoSL on a wide range of issues, including matters unrelated to the purview of the Commission. This, as well as the unusual decision of the three Organisations to release the joint letter to the public, is demonstrative of a broader targeted agenda against the GoSL…

With regard to the claims bythe ICG, HRW and AI that due to the lack ofwitness protection ”¹…”no organization or individual can disclose confidential information to the Commission”,  the reality on the ground is that since the Commission began its work, civilians including displaced persons, widows and members of civil society have recounted their experiences before the Commission.  If there were any fear to testify, such a strong public participation in the work of the Commission, especially in the North and in East of the country, would not have materialized.

It is in this context that the three Organizations involved could have better contributed, by following the internationally-recognized principle and practice of co-operating with national institutions and domestic mechanisms and processes, in the promotion and protection of human rights.  Given the above, the development of the joint letter of October14, by the ICG, AI and HRW to the Commission, leaves room to believe that these organizations would by far prefer to voice allegations from distant parts of the world, rather than jeopardize their claims to credibility by subjecting their assertions to scrutiny under the transparent and legally sound process afforded by the LLRC”Ministry of External Affairs, Colombo 20 October 2010.

In the final analysis,the HRW has opted to voice their anti-Sri Lanka propaganda from far corners of the globe and in this instance, selected Major Gen Jagath Dias, a decorated army office of Sri Lanka as one of their prime targets. The  HRW has never gone after  well-known human rights violators who were responsible for killing of nearly 1 million children in Iraq imposing economic embargoes, indiscriminate killing of unarmed civilians by carpet bombing in Iraq and Afghanistan and killings of civilians by the use of drones. HRW has never castigated a single CIA official who was using enhanced interrogation techniques, such as water boarding, breaking prisoners’ bones, stubbing out cigarettes on prisoners’ skin, attaching electric wires to their genitals, or pulling out finger nails, for HR violations. Their unashamed silence about the political and the military leadership which endorsed such blatant HR violations proves beyond any doubt the duplicity of their pursuits.

As the saying goes ….The dogs may continue to bark, but the caravan will keep moving ahead… All our good wishes are with Major General Jagath, C. Dias,WWW.,RWP, RSP, USP, and the heroic Sri Lankan Army