‘Military takeover’: Defence Ministry responds to CBK

images (8)by Shamindra Ferdinando

The Defence Ministry yesterday alleged that an attempt was being made to discredit the military in accordance with an overall political strategy meant to undermine the government.

A senior Defence Ministry spokesperson told The Island that some politicians had been discussing the post-war role of the military in a disparaging manner.

The official was responding to recent statements attributed to former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga. Mrs. Kumaratunga was quoted as having said the country was facing the threat of being taken over by the military. The former President expressed concern whether the military would intervene when the people tried to bring about a change.

Kumaratunga said that many others felt the same way. “I have strong fears over this. Today, even the roads are being swept by the military. Even the drains in front of my house are being cleaned by them. My greatest fear is whether they will commit a massive destruction by discarding their brooms for weapons at a crucial time when the people attempt to bring about a change.”

“They are keeping an eye on the happenings of our houses. Telephones are being tapped … Reading emails… Cancelling my emails.

CID and State Intelligence Service personnel are always posted in major hotels to keep tabs on who comes and goes.”

“Even if a friend visits my home, intelligence officers question them the following day. I have even written during the tenure of IGP Balasuriya on this regard. Not only me. Everyone who is thought to be a person disagreeing with those in power is faced with this situation. All these things visible today are signs of a military rule.”

Having lambasted the military, Mrs. Kumaratunga urged the combined Opposition to form an alliance to lead a campaign against “the oppressive regime”.

The Defence Ministry said that the Illankai Thamil Arasu Kadchi-led Tamil National Alliance (TNA) and Mrs. Kumaratunga appeared to have taken a common stand against the military. The spokesperson said: “The TNA is pushing the government to withdraw the Army from the Jaffna peninsula. The TNA also wants the government to reduce the strength of the Army in the Vanni region. In Colombo, Mrs. Kumaratunga is propagating falsehood as regards the intentions of the Army.”

The official said that the TNA and the Opposition in the South should realize that military was consisted of men and women of this country. Since the conclusion of the conflict in May 2009, troops and assets had been re-deployed in line with an overall plan to ensure post-war security, the official said, recollecting the circumstances under which the government decided to maintain the war-time strength to guarantee security. But an equally significant reason was that the government felt those who had served the country shouldn’t be sent home immediately after the end of the conflict, the official said. That would have caused a massive upheaval, he said, adding that the LTTE could never have been defeated without trebling the strength of security forces.

 

Responding to other allegations made by Mrs. Kumaratunga, the Defence Ministry said: “Intelligence services don’t have the capability to tap mobile phones. There is also absolutely no basis to claim ordinary telephones are being tapped because no one uses line phones these days. We don’t have the capability delete email. The service provider should be held responsible if someone interfered with e-mails. In fact, reference to Mahinda Balasuriya was interesting as he quit the service in June 2011.”

 

Had Opposition leaders bothered to study Wiki Leaks and the Edward Snowden affaire they would have realised what was happening in the US and Europe and the growing influence of intelligence services in government, the Defence Ministry spokesman said.

 

The official said that the attack on the military was timed for the ongoing session of the Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council session. There would be a spate of reports in the run-up to the next session of the Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council in March next year.