Facebook icon
Twitter icon
e-mail icon

Suspected Sri Lankan war criminal dies in Colombo

A senior Sri Lankan military commander who once led a unit accused of war crimes has died from complications of a COVID-19 infection, having never been investigated or faced any accountability mechanism.

Panduka Perera, who last held the post of commander of the 563 Brigade which is currently occupying the Vanni, died on December 31. His funeral was held earlier this month, with military honours.

The commander first joined the Sri Lankan army in November 1990 and took part in several military offensives in the North-East. In the years that followed, as the Sri Lankan armed forces battled its way across the Tamil homeland, scores of human rights violations occurred.

But it is in the military’s final assault in which Perera took a leading role. On November 5, Perera took over command of the 6th Sinha Regiment, as part of a promotion to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

The battalion took part in military offensives in the Vanni as it pushed into Puthukudiruppu, a town in Mullaitivu that came under intense Sri Lankan bombardment.

6 Sinha Regiment troops in Puthukudiruppu in early 2009.

Subsequently, under Perera’s command, the 6 Sinha Regiment advanced with the army’s 53 Division further into Mullaitivu towards Mullivaikkal, where tens of thousands of Tamil civilians were massacred.

The man who oversaw the 53 Division at the time was Kamal Gunaratne, Sri Lanka’s current defence secretary and another credibly accused war criminal.

The events of that period have been subject to several United Nations reports and closely examined. Hospitals were bombed, surrendering Tamils executed or forcibly disappeared and widespread sexual violence was deployed.

To date, no one has been held accountable for any of the crimes that took place.

We need your support

Sri Lanka is one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a journalist. Tamil journalists are particularly at threat, with at least 41 media workers known to have been killed by the Sri Lankan state or its paramilitaries during and after the armed conflict.

Despite the risks, our team on the ground remain committed to providing detailed and accurate reporting of developments in the Tamil homeland, across the island and around the world, as well as providing expert analysis and insight from the Tamil point of view

We need your support in keeping our journalism going. Support our work today.

For more ways to donate visit https://donate.tamilguardian.com.