‘Handful of violators should not reflect on discipline of all troops’ | Daily News

Army on UN troops cutback :

‘Handful of violators should not reflect on discipline of all troops’

“A handful of troops violating international law should not call into question the discipline and professionalism of the rest of the troops,” a Sri Lanka Army official statement released yesterday stated in response to the reported decision of reductions by the United Nations of Sri Lankan military deployments in UN peace-keeping forces, apparently on the basis of questions about the wartime performance of Army personnel.

The Army communique says that the “selection of an Army Commander is the sovereign decision of an independent democratic country” and that Lt. Gen. Shavendra Silva was chosen the Army Commander by the head of State. “It must be kept in mind that the Sri Lanka Army is the Army of the Republic of Sri Lanka and not the private army of the Army Commander and as such deserves to be treated with honour and dignity,” the statement said.

“As a result of the experience of overcoming the deadly LTTE, Sri Lanka was able to offer an important enabling unit in the form of a convoy protection battalion for the MINUSMA mission in Mali. In this endeavour two gallant peace keepers lost their precious lives. Captain H.W.D.Jayawickrama and corporal S.s.Wijewickrema were killed in January this year were killed in a mine attack, while serving in Mali. In 2005, soldiers J.B.Jayasinghe and H.M. Wijesinghe and in 2007, A. Jayantha lost their lives while on peace keeping duty.At this time the UN offered the prestigious dag Hammarskjold award in memory of the fallen soldiers,” the statement reminded.

“Peacekeeping deployment expands opportunities for individual soldiers, in terms of training, earnings and most importantly, recognition. Peacekeeping thus enables individuals to earn promotion. Despite international criticism of the Sri Lankan military, the argument made is that a handful of troops violating international law should not call into question the discipline and professionalism of the rest of the troops,” the statement noted.

“Participation in peacekeeping and international institutions more broadly reinforces Sri Lanka’s internationalist commitment to the UN. Sri Lanka, known as Ceylon, joined the United Nations in 1955 and served as a member of the 1956 United Nations Advisory Committee, which led to the setting up of the first Peace Keeping Mission known as the United Nations Emergency Force 1 (UNEF 1). The present deployment as at July 29 remains at a contingent of 409 with 14 military observers, 20 staff officers, totalling 443.”


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