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ITJP releases dossier of evidence against Sri Lanka’s new Secretary of Defence

Sri Lanka’s Secretary of Defence, Kamal Gunaratne, commanded an important military division in the Vanni which "the United Nations says there are reasonable grounds to say war crimes were committed by the men under his command" said the International Truth and Justice Project in a 100-page dossier outlining Gunaratne’s involvement as a military leader in 2009. 

The dossier is a compilation of testimonies, reports by the UN and NGOs and abstracts from Gunaratne’s autobiography. 

In 2015, the OHCHR Investigation into Sri Lanka (OISL) found that Gunaratne was the 53 Division Commander in 2009. “It found reasonable grounds to say the 53  Division while commanded by Gunaratne was involved in attacks on hospitals and civilians in three ‘No Fire Zones,’ summary execution and torture,” the dossier states. 

In his autobiography, Gunaratne admits that there was a monitoring system in his operations room in early February 2009 where he could observe real time imagery of the battlefield so he was “clearly able to identify the areas of civilian concentration,” highlighting that Gunaratne should have anticipated the loss of civilian life.

The 53 Division commanded by Gunaratne is also responsible for the killing of Tamil TV presenter, Isaipriya, who surrendered to the Sri Lankan military in 2009. A UN investigation concluded that the 53 Division initially claimed responsibility for her killing. 

The UN investigation found:

“Reasonable grounds to believe that security forces captured Isaipriya alive and then killed her with gunshots to the head execution style. Further, based on the images of Isaipriya’s dead body and those of many other women, the OISL believes that Isaipriya’s dead body was desecrated.” 

After the war ended, Gunaratne went on to run Sri Lanka’s most notorious torture camp in Vavuniya. “The ITJP has documented ten accounts of torture and/or sexual violence committed by soldiers against detainees in that period and this is likely the tip of the iceberg.” This detention centre contained purpose-built cells equipped for torture. 

See the full text of the dossier here