Ex-Army Chief denies accusations over missing persons

Ex-Army Chief denies accusations over missing persons

August 13, 2015   02:20 pm

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The former Commander of the Sri Lankan, Army General Daya Ratnayake, says that allegations regarding disappearances of LTTE cadres who surrendered to security forces are simply made-up stories whispered by anti-Government groups.

“When they were taken into the rehabilitation process, none of them, I can assure you with responsibility, went missing,” said General Ratnayake, who served as Commissioner General of Rehabilitation for former LTTE combatants. “From point zero to the end, we have records of what they went through, how they were taken in.”

“These are false allegations. Made-up stories,” he was quoted as saying by Channel News Asia.

Following the end of the war, an estimated 12,000 LTTE cadres entered the state-run rehabilitation process. The majority, encouraged by the Government’s promise of release, turned themselves in. Around 700 of them were child soldiers and 2,000 were female combatants.

Their transfer to 28 rehabilitation facilities was, according to the ex-army commander, “very transparent”.

“The ICRC and various international organisations have been monitoring all these things,” he explained. 

“If anyone is handed over to the police or the army, it has always been documented. It has been recorded.”

Sri Lanka had the second largest number of non-clarified cases of disappearances in the world after Iraq, based on the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances report in 1999.

“Although a considerable number of criminal investigations have been initiated in relation to disappearances which occurred some ten years ago, only very few of the suspected perpetrators have actually been convicted,” the report claimed.

“We’ve been very slow,” admitted Rajiva Wijesinha, former Secretary of the Ministry of Disaster Management and Human Rights under the Rajapaksa administration. “And, of course, if you’re slow, you’ll make people suspicious.”

According to Mr Wijesinha, the Sri Lankan force did “a very good job” during the war and tried their best to abide by the international law. Still, he accepted that the Government has not done enough in addressing war crimes allegations.

“There were allegations of killings of some of the surrendered. I believe that should have been looked at more carefully and I think the Government made a great mistake in not doing this,” he told Channel News Asia.

“Whatever is wronged by our own people should be corrected and we haven’t done enough of that,” Mr Wijesinha added. “We have to insist on transparency and accountability.”

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