President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Friday heaped praise on the military saying that it had not only defeated a terrorist organisation without violating human rights but was now actively taking part in rebuilding post-war Sri Lanka.
Rajapaksa was speaking at the victory parade to mark the second anniversary of the defeat of the separatist Tamil Tiger rebels in May, 2009.
Fighter aircraft and helicopter gunships flew above as thousands of military personnel marched to military tunes on the city's oceanfront amid light rain.
Rajapaksa said the military didn't go to war bearing hatred for any community and in fact saved thousands held as hostage by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.
"I will recall what I said in the past that our troops went to the battlefront carrying a gun in one hand, the Human Rights Charter in the other, food for the innocent displaced on their shoulders, and love of their children in their hearts," Rajapaksa said.
"…we are proud of the humanitarian nature of our operation against the enemy,” he said later in the speech.
An UN expert panel report made public in April said thousands of Tamil civilians were killed during the last months of the Lankan war – a majority in deliberate shelling by the Sri Lankan army.
Without directly referring to the report, Rajapaksa said dismissed it saying the report was influenced by the LTTE remnants still active abroad.
He said: "Terrorism in a country begins with shooting down the truth. Even after war the Tamil Tigers continue to target the truth. As a result of this, conspiracies were launched to write false reports against our country and our war heroes."
He repeatedly referred to military personnel as "heroes" and "war heroes" and said they were active in developing the country.
"From the Foreign Service to the beautifying of Colombo city, war heroes contribute immensely for the betterment of this country. You who shed your blood for this country, are today toiling for the development process of the country," he said. Few top officers involved in operations against the LTTE were subsequently posted in Lankan missions abroad; soldiers were deployed this January to sell vegetables.