The former commander of Sri Lanka’s army Daya Ratnayake has lashed out at the United Nations and staunchly brushed off reports of mass atrocities committed by Sri Lankan troops, calling them “completely baseless and fabricated”.
Ratnayake, the current chairman of Sri Lanka’s Ports Authority, told the Daily Mirror that he felt “betrayed” by the former regime as it co-sponsored a UN resolution on accountability. “Not only me but all soldiers feel betrayed,” he said. “People outside Sri Lanka think we are barbarians.”
He went on to claim that the Sri Lankan military had “carried out the world’s most intense and best humanitarian operation,” during the final stages of the armed conflict, in which tens of thousands of Tamil civilians were massacred. Several reports, including photographs and video footage have surfaced over the years, documenting how hospitals were routinely shelled and surrendering Tamils executed by Sri Lankan forces.
Ratnayake, however, brushed off the reports, stating that internal organisations such as the UN “speak only on vested interests”. “As a soldier, I am not too concerned as to what these agencies say,” he added.
The former army chief, who previously held the post of Commissioner General of Rehabilitation, went on to claim that those that surrendered to the Sri Lankan military were “safe” and “well looked after”.
“When these people came to the army, they were taken care of exceptionally well. There were thousands who came… They were looked after very well. Hundreds of clerics from all religions came out safely. Not even a scratch came upon these people.”
“So what are these allegations?” he said. “Why defame the military? These allegations are fabricated. They are the result of an organised move against the government.”
His comments come as Tamil families of the forcibly disappeared, many of whom last saw their loved ones in Sri Lankan military custody, continued their roadside demonstrations across the North-East, with many locations having continuously protested for over 3 years.
Ratnayake also defended the current head of Sri Lanka’s army Shavendra Silva, who was recently subjected to US travel sanctions, calling him “an outstanding officer from the very inception”.
“How can people seated outside our country level such allegations of war crimes when they do not know what took place?,” he continued. “I am happy that the government has taken such a strong stand in defending Shavendra Silva.”
“We won the war,” added Ratnayake. “The objective of the military and the two leaders was to bring all communities under one flag and end terrorism.”
See his full comments to the Daily Mirror here.