Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Defence exposes exploitation of war veterans as overseas mercenaries

Sri Lanka's Defence Secretary General Kamal Gunaratne

Defence Secretary General Kamal Gunaratne

Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Defence has learned that a number of retired war veterans, who dedicated their lives to defending the country during the 30-year-long terrorist war, have fallen victim to a scheme orchestrated by illegal foreign job agents.

These veterans have been dispatched to the Russian-Ukrainian war front as members of mercenary groups.

It has also been revealed that a significant number of war veterans have died or sustained injuries on the battlefield.

It is regrettable that such individuals, who served and retired with honor in the armed forces of Sri Lanka, are now acting as mercenaries in foreign lands.

These war veterans departed for the Russian-Ukrainian war front as mercenaries after being deceived by human traffickers, who promised them opportunities to join foreign armies, lucrative salaries, citizenship in those countries, and other benefits.

However, neither the serving nor the injured veterans received any salaries or benefits, and these traffickers have failed to provide any sort of compensation to the families of those injured or deceased. Furthermore, they have not disclosed the whereabouts of these veterans to their families.

The Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are exerting great efforts to obtain factual information about the war veterans and casualties at the Russian-Ukrainian war front.

The Defence Secretary General Kamal Gunaratne has issued a special plea to war veterans, urging them not to fall prey to such illegal schemes and to consider the welfare of their families before taking any actions.

The Criminal Investigation Department (CID), Police, and Intelligence agencies have launched extensive operations to apprehend these illegal human traffickers, and several individuals involved in these activities have already been arrested.

While emphasizing that these war veterans, who are Sri Lankan citizens, cannot be allowed to be exploited as mercenaries in foreign lands, the Defence Secretary further states that the law will be rigorously enforced against illegal human smugglers, establishments, and others involved in these illicit activities.

(Ministry of Defence)