The Sunday Leader

They Know The Truth – General Daya Ratnayake

In an exclusive interview with The Sunday Leader Army Commander, Lieutenant General Daya Ratnayake maintains that the Sri Lankan Army did what no any other army in the world accomplished facing a ruthless organization and defeating without using heavy weapons.

“The government decided to stop using the heavy weapons during the last stages which was a huge sacrifice for us but it was the greatest sacrifice in order to protect the civilians. We did not even use large deployments during that time but we used small groups and as a result a good number of our soldiers lost their lives,” he adds. – Following is the full context of the interview:

By Camelia Nathaniel

Q: It is speculated that with the appointing of a three member committee to investigate allegations of war crimes, the Government betrayed the military. Is this the case?

A: We are not concerned as it is a national decision. The Army has not done anything wrong and our system is very transparent and we have nothing to hide. No one in the world has done what the Sri Lankan Army has done to eradicate terrorism. We are a professional army and we don’t mind anyone investigating our actions as we have done nothing wrong. In fact we have created a world record in achieving what we did to defeat the world’s most ruthless terrorism outfit. Even the western nations have not done what we have done. Ours was a humanitarian operation, maintaining zero casualties to civilians and inflicting maximum damages to the terrorists. As a result we have nothing to hide and we carried out a very credible investigation and if we find that anyone has done anything wrong they will be punished. The government has appointed this committee to advice the government and we have nothing to be concerned about as we have only done our duty.

Even in 1983, there was an incident and 69 soldiers from three to four camps in Jaffna went out on their own and started harassing people. But the military involved and captured all of them and brought them to a camp. The commander himself went there and personally removed their ranks, put them to the Anuradhapura prison and discharged them from the army. That is how we maintain discipline and we will not tolerate any misconduct.

Q: Although the military has been accused of causing harm to civilians during the final stages of the war, the Army claim that they were restricted from using their optimum capability which could have harmed the civilians. What do you mean by this claim?

A: I am positive that no army in the world would have stopped firing their heavy weapons facing a ruthless terrorist organization with land air and naval capabilities. But the government decided to stop using the heavy weapons during the last stages which was a huge sacrifice for us but it was the greatest sacrifice in order to protect the civilians. We did not even use large deployments during that time but we used small groups and as a result a good number of our soldiers lost their lives. Safe passages were created for the trapped civilians to escape and as a result a fair number of soldiers were killed as they had no cover. Yet in spite of all that they did their best to liberate these trapped civilians. No army in the world would have done what we did to rescue these civilians who were being used as human shields by the LTTE.

This is very evident in the testimonies of the Tamil civilians as they were all moving towards army controlled areas and not towards the LTTE controlled areas. This itself is a clear indication that they were aware that we were there to rescue them and they trusted us.

Q: If you have the evidence in hand to prove that the military did not endanger the lives of civilians, why are you not using it to defend the military?

A: We are doing it but these people who are making these allegations know the truth but they artificially create these situations with ulterior objectives. There were a large number of NGO’s, and UN personnel in the operational areas at the time of conflict, but none of them were injured or harmed in any way. But now they are keeping quiet knowing exactly what happened and creating these issues for us. There were around 300000 people at the time and they are all still living in various areas and anyone can ask these people and find out the truth. However the sad thing is that these people with ulterior motives are not interested in the truth.

Various organisations have conducted investigations and surveys regarding the casualty figures etc., and these figures are readily available for anyone to clarify. But these people who are making all these allegations don’t want to listen to these or they are simply not interested in the truth but they simply want to prove their allegations. We have gone beyond the call of the army’s regular practices in order to facilitate any investigation to prove our innocence, but they are simply not interested and they are trying to destabilise us.

Q: Do you still think that there is a threat of the LTTE re-emerging from the North?

A: Well I don’t think a terror outfit fighting again here would be possible, and there is no direct threat. However we know how the LTTE was structured and their intelligence network is all around the world. We are aware of people who were involved in covert operations as well. However when we defeated terrorism in May 200, we did not leave room for them to come up in the same manner. But those who were working underground are still there. We are aware that there are extremist elements living among the Tamil Diaspora and they are very well organized and structured and financially stable.

Hence they tried on several occasions to have a foothold here in Sri Lanka but we did not allow them. Therefore we must continue the surveillance and make sure they are not allowed to establish themselves here, not only in the North but also anywhere in the country. So the security presence must go on for some time until we can stabilize sustainable peace.

Q: How do you see Sri Lanka’s relationship with our neighbouring countries, especially with India?

A: Military to military we have very cordial relations. India in particular caters significantly to our foreign training requirement. Whenever we have asked India for help they have always obliged and we have regular discussions and interactions with India and they are our closest partners. We even have good relations with even the US military. In fact most of the other countries are using the same strategy that the Sri Lankan Army used to address conflicts within their countries as well.

Q: Why do you think the military is the main target of many allegations, especially by the western countries?

A: Many of these parties want de-stability in the country and many of them who are trying to do so know that the military is the binding force. The army in that respect is the main target. Perhaps they expected the Sri Lankan Army to get into these small regional groups like in many countries and fight like warlords do in many of these other countries.

In fact unlike in many of these countries even in the West, we have not had one single soldier going berserk and disrupting society or creating panic in the society. Today we are the most disciplined organization. Those in the Western world could not fathom what we were doing. So, some are perhaps jealous, surprised or shocked. We have restructured our army so fast that many countries are coming and learning from us. This is perhaps a thorn in the side of the western powerful nations. We are an example to the whole world.

 

1 Comment for “They Know The Truth – General Daya Ratnayake”

  1. Piranha

    Sri Lankan army did what no other army in the world accomplished?

    Yes, with the help of India, UK, USA, Pakistan, China, Israel and many others providing military hardware, intelligence, advice and logistical support and by murdering tens of thousands of innocent Tamil civilians.

    Stop crowing man. The world now knows how the SL military defeated the LTTE.

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