COLOMBO: Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena has rejected charges from his predecessor Mahinda Rajapaksa that his unity government was persecuting military personnel for ending the war with the LTTE.
I wish to make it clear that there is no targeting of soldiers. We have been accused of jailing them," Sirisena said while addressing a gathering in the northwestern region of Kurunegala last night.
Scores of soldiers have been arrested including a former chief of staff of military intelligence for abductions and disappearances.
None of the genuine war heroes have been jailed. Those who have been jailed were the ones accused of murdering journalists and abducting people," Sirisena said, adding I have succeeded in stopping anyone from being tried for war crimes".
Sirisena pledged in 2015 in the run up to his election in which he defeated Rajapaksa that all alleged human rights violations during the Rajapaksa regime would be duly investigated.
The new government did reopen some of the cases including the murder of the editor of the Sunday Leader newspaper, a virulent critic of Rajapaksa.
Rajapaksa's government faced UN sanctions with recurring resolutions since 2012 which called for independent investigations into alleged human rights abuses during the final phase of the military conflict with the LTTE militant group which ended in 2009.
Rajapaksa branded the UN rights resolutions as attacks on Sri Lanka's sovereignty and refused to cooperate with the UN.
Sirisena's unity government adopted a more conciliatory approach towards the UN and has won confidence to pursue reconciliation with the Tamil minority.
Sri Lankan Army Chief Mahesh Senanayake said this week that the army would setup a special unit to counter war crime charges against the defence forces.