Former Director Operations of Sri Lanka Army denies
war crimes allegations:
Darusman Report, a mere cat’s paw
Sri Lanka’s Deputy High Commissioner in Malaysia Maj. Gen. Udaya
Perera said that the contents of the Darusman report basically reflects
the voice of LTTE and its proxy Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam
In an interview with the Sunday Observer,maj.Gen. Perera, who
functioned as Sri lanka Army’s Director Operations during the
humanitarian operation vehemently refuted the allegations levelled
against the Sri Lankan Government and the military on war crimes during
the final stages of the end battle in 2009.
“Most of the directions were issued to the soldiers through the Army
Head quarters. The rules of engagements came from the Commander-in-Chief
of the Armed Forces, the President- to maintain zero casualty, which was
very difficult in a conventional or any other war. We are proud as a
nation and also as soldiers as we maintained that policy since the
inception of the battle to liberate the East”he said.
Q: The UN Secretary General’s report on alleged war crimes
during the final stages of the battle against the LTTE terrorism has
been released. What do you think about the Darusman report?
A: I don’t consider it a UN report as it has been prepared by
three individuals outside the UN system appointed by the UN Secretary
General to advise him. Therefore, firstly it has not been sanctioned by
any UN Body to be a UN report and secondly as it is a document prepared
to advise him, it should have maintained the highest level of
confidentiality. Where advice is sought by an individual such advice
should be given only to that individual and not to anyone else.
Therefore, if someone intends to publicize it, I consider it is
unethical by any standard. Already some portion of the advice given to
the Secretary General has been published by the print media which is
Unfortunately those printed contents contain basically the voice of
LTTE and their proxy TGTE in verbatim. If these are true contents of the
advisory report, the question of Rudrakumaran’s involvement in preparing
the report may raise a credibility issue as he is well-known to be a
fund raiser for the LTTE who used such funds in committing atrocities in
Sri Lanka. How can a terrorist get involved in such a process?
Q: You were the Director/Operations during the end battle in
May 2009. How do you respond to the alleged war crime charges thrown at
the Sri Lankan military by human rights groups and the Darusman report?
A: What I can clearly say is that these allegations are false.
I know what really took place in Sri Lanka. Most of the directions were
passed down to soldiers through the Army Headquarters. The rules of
engagements came from the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, the
President- to maintain zero casualty, which was very difficult to
maintain in a conventional or any other war. We are proud as a nation
and also as soldiers as we maintained that policy since the inception of
the battle to liberate the East. At that time, the extremist elements
and even the LTTE did not complain that the military caused harm or
killed civilians. We were able to rescue 200,000 civilians suffered
under the LTTE control. In the battle to liberate the East, we adopted a
strategy to capture the populated areas under LTTE control in opening up
corridors for the civilians to flee to government controlled areas while
the LTTE was pushed gradually into the jungles. After gaining control in
South of Vakarai, the civilians started fleeing into the government held
areas in large numbers and the final battle to liberate the East was
fought in the jungles of Thoppigala, where the terrorists were isolated.
It was not an easy task for the military to use minimum fire power to
get civilians into our control areas and to push the terrorists into
jungles. At that time, we also created channels for the LTTE to withdraw
into jungles. As we allowed them to withdraw into jungles to isolate
them from the civilians, the terrorists used that opportunity to move
their heavy guns, which they used to attack the soldiers. It is a huge
risk for the military.
That strategy was fully successful. Though it was a very difficult
task the military, was compelled to follow the instructions as the
government strongly ordered to maintain zero casualty policy throughout
the battle. We established democracy in the East. The military captured
large hauls of weapons from the LTTE in the East and it also caused
heavy death toll to the outfit.
Most of the LTTE cadres died in the East were in civilian clothes but
no one including the so-called human rights activists of the
international community or Tamil Diaspora, which never wanted the
government to defeat LTTE terrorism, complained any harm to the
civilians in the East.
The reason was then the government was not a challenge to them as
they never expected that the LTTE would be defeated. They were of the
view that defeating the LTTE was an impossible task for the government.
The Sri Lanka Army launched the 57 division against the LTTE domination
in the North while its troops were fighting to liberate the East. While
the battle to liberate the North was progressing, the military adopted
the same strategy to maintain zero casualty policy. We opened designated
corridors for civilians to come out while pushing the LTTE to the North
East. Leaflets were dropped instructing the civilians to use the
designated corridors to flee the LTTE domination but the terrorists who
got leaflets used their fire power to prevent civilians from abandoning
them. The government did not have any choice but continued with the
humanitarian operation to rescue thousands of civilians from the LTTE’s
The government throughout continued to send food, medicine and other
necessary requirements such as medical and education facilities.
Schools, hospitals and other administrative services were functioning
and food for over 500,000 people was also dispatched knowing very well
that the lion’s share of it would go to the LTTE.
Strategically and militarily it was a huge disadvantage for us as we
were feeding the terrorists. Even in a conventional battle, the first
thing the military does is that it discontinues the logistics but here
we fed the LTTE.
Since the government was fully committed to rescue civilians, it
first opened up corridors and then declared a No Fire Zone (NFZ) to save
the innocent lives. We would not have provided such facilities if we
wanted to kill the innocent civilians. While the LTTE was killing the
civilians who tried to flee, recruiting under-aged children and ordinary
civilians forcibly and attacking the advancing troops will heavy weapons
mounted among civilians in the NFZ, the government kept on expanding the
NFZ further to save the lives of innocent civilians. The military never
attacked the NFZs and used infantry (in a conventional set up) to attack
the terrorists. Sri Lanka Army had about 16 Infantry Divisions and in a
conventional setup there will be a minimum of four to five Artillery
Divisions and three to four Armoured Divisions to support Infantry
Divisions. When we were fighting the Wanni battle we had only one
Artillery Brigade and one Armour Brigade. You must understand my
difficulty as Director/ Operations in shifting guns from one area to the
other. Sometimes a division was given one or two guns to fight a battle
and a Divisional Commander would never ever accept this in any other
Army. We fought with much constraint and the hands of the military were
tied up to save more lives though we suffered heavy damages.
The government did not intentionally provide the required weapons in
order to maintain the zero casualty policy.
While the troops were advancing and the terrorists were herding the
civilians as hostages, the government further expanded the NFZ. When the
battle lines were shifted, we came across schools, hospitals, UN and
ICRC centres and many other state buildings abandoned by the civilians
as they were chased by the LTTE. The LTTE used such buildings to attack
With confidence I can say, the military did not attack intentionally
any of those public buildings which we had identified early through
sophisticated equipment. Through the UAV images the entire world saw how
mercilessly the terrorists were attacking the innocent civilians running
for life. The LTTE who were inside the hospitals and schools attacked
If we want to attack hospitals and schools we would not have provided
food and medicine for the civilians.
Q: Do you mean to say until the very end, the soldiers
fighting in the forward defence lines were ordered to maintain the zero
A: Yes. They were all ordered to adhere to it and they were
committed to save the civilian lives but remember it was a huge task for
the military. We are proud that we achieved the target. However
collateral damage is possible under those circumstances. Intentionally
no civilian targets were attacked at all.
Q: Sri Lankans have the experience of so many battles which
never progressed to defeat the LTTE. What was the main factor that
contributed to the victory?
A: It is not a single factor but a combination of many. The
main factor was the strong political leadership committed to end the
scourge of the 30-year-old terrorism. The other is the dedication and
expertise of Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who could feel the
pulse of the military. He always maintained a close rapport with the top
and the lower rungs meeting them at least once a month to evaluate the
progress and shortcomings of the battle and took steps to rescue the
civilians. He addressed not only the commanders of certain level but
also the soldiers and the message was delivered that no civilian
casualties would be allowed. All soldiers were committed to it and if
anyone accuses our soldiers for killing civilians he should watch the
videos to see how our soldiers rescued the innocent Tamil civilians
feeding them with their own rations and giving them medical treatment
for injuries inflicted by the LTTE attacks.
When you come to the last stage of the battle fought in close
quarters there could be co-lateral damage.
We had a very good grip over the artillery and armour as we had one
for each brigade. That tough control was there over the guns because of
the very small structure we had. The two brigade commanders knew what
kind of guns they had used, the time of firing and the location. Last
but not least is the support we received from the Tamil community in the
country and if not for their support defeating LTTE would have been more
Q: Do you mean to say that the Army has a valid account for
all the weapons it used in the end battle?
A: Yes, they were responsible for each and every weapon they
used. In making an allegation if anybody gives the time, place and the
type of guns fired at a particular place, surely the brigade commanders
should know all about it. I must say this is only one side of the story.
Those who make allegations against the Sri Lankan military on war
crimes should look at the other side of the story too, where the LTTE
leadership held over 300,000 civilians as hostages due to hopes given by
some segments of the international community that it will be saved even
at the last moment.
Disillusioned by that hope Prabhakaran held the civilians as a buffer
until the so-called international community come to save him and his
mission. When such a hope is given to a maniac like Prabhakaran, he held
in hostage over 300,000 civilians in a small stretch of land subjecting
them to dangers and death if ever any of them dared to escape. This
scenario would have been different if the international saviours had not
given him hopes.
Those who are now talking about civilian casualties should have
spoken about them at that time and given a clear message to Prabhakaran
that he should abandon his failed mission to save civilian lives. But
they never did it.
Another fact was that most of the terrorists, who were recruited
forcibly and were ill-trained fought the soldiers in civilian clothes.
Soldiers did not have any choice when they were fighting in close
We had to engage, otherwise we will lose the battle. Having deployed
the ill-trained cadres to fight the well-trained soldiers Prabhakaran
had kept his experienced cadres to protect him. We can not be held
accountable for the deaths of terrorists who were fighting the soldiers
in civilian clothes. Over 30,000 LTTE cadres died.
Q: The Sri Lankan soldiers faced allegations of rape and the
harassment of civilians during some of the previous battles. Did the
Army give tough punishment to the soldiers who were involved in these
A: Yes, tough measures were taken to maintain their
discipline. Orders were given to all ground commanders to enforce it and
also ensure that the soldiers were committed to maintain it 100 percent.
The main reason for the good record was that we have a very
experienced and professional force. When we launched the battle against
terrorism in 1983, our soldiers did not have the expertise, and
experience (and strategy) and several of such instances were reported.
But when it comes to 2006 it was not the same Army, which was fighting
then. The new political leadership and professional military outfit
never tolerated such incidents. We wanted to isolate the LTTE by
building confidence in military among the civilians to get them on to
our side. Almost all the soldiers obeyed the orders fully.
Q: Can the LTTE make a come-back through the pro-LTTE for a
like Global Tamil Forum?
A: The LTTE as a fighting force will never come back. The Sri
Lankans, who suffered due to LTTE terrorism for nearly 30-years,
irrespective of their ethnicity will not allow the LTTE to come back.
It is sad that the pro-LTTE Tamil Diaspora despite all the negative
responses towards the LTTE, is still clamouring the support for the LTTE
and trying to fight the government, which launched a gigantic task for
rebuilding the lives of those who suffered under the LTTE. They are
still in a failed attempt to create Eelam while all communities are
living peacefully in united Sri Lanka.
Q: How could persons like Rudrakumaran survive without TGTE?
Until he can maintain it, he will hook to this mission. How can he
become Prime Minister if he quits the TGTE? Can he get this through
democratic means and who will respect him?
A: I am sure he will not give up Eelam dream because of wealth
and power. I am also a Catholic but it is a shame that the Catholic
Priest Emmanuel was propagating the LTTE ideology. As these people
cannot be with out organisations like GTF, they will carry forward these
pro-LTTE movements for their survival.
I don’t think that the ordinary Tamils here and abroad and also
certain sections of the international community which has now realized
the truth will support them anymore.However, these pro-LTTE groups will
remain as they need to survive through propagating the LTTE
ideology.This will come to an end the day these pro-LTTE elements are
convinced that they are still in a failed mission for, which they could
muster no faith or support from the Tamils worldwide.
Ganegama Vithanage Don
Udaya Annesly Perera
The Catholic environment at
home made the youngest of the Perera family of four girls
and three boys, to dream to get into robes. When he started
schooling, the disciplined La Sallian Brothers of the De
Mazenod College, Kandana too influenced him to become a
Catholic priest one day.
He lost his father Wilfred,
who was a senior superintendent of Post and
Telecommunication and the President of UPTO (Union of Post
and Telecommunication Officers), when he was only 13.
Fate drove him to a
different direction as he wanted to pursue a challenging
career after he sat for his Advanced Level examination.
Having excelled in studies
and sports, received College and Public Schools Colours for
Athletics and played soccer and basketball for the school,
he joined the Sir John Kothalawela Academy to pursue a
After a few months in the
Academy he joined the Sri Lanka Army as an Officer Cadet in
He was appointed a Second
Lieutenant in June 1983, and was commissioned to 1st
Battalion, the Gajaba Regiment.
Young soldier Udaya faced
many challenging tasks in counter terrorism operations
against the insurgent group, the LTTE-in mid 1980s.
Having launched counter
terrorist operations in the East in his capacity as Platoon
Commander, then as Company Commander in Jaffna Peninsula and
Weli Oya, he commanded his Company during the Thrivida
Balaya rescue operation to reserve Jaffna Fort. With the
success of each mission he fulfilled, he was promoted to
“I led the first wave of
troops to reach the Jaffna Fort from Mandaithivu island
during the Operation Thrivada Balaya, in 1986. Due to heavy
resistance I lost half of my Company Officers and troops
during the dare-devil crossing through the lagoon.
However despite all odds
against us we reached the Fort and rescued those besieged
inside the Fort. My CO at that time was Col Gotabaya
Rajapaksa, said Maj. General Perera recalling the
unforgettable incident in his counter terrorism operations.
As Deputy Sri Lankan High
Commissioner in Malaysia, he said that he never thought that
he would become a diplomat one day.
I performed a very
challenging task during the end battle and my present job is
also a challenging one. For a soldier the job of a diplomat
is rather difficult not because of its professional
background but the two belong entirely to two different set
Unlike the army career a
diplomat has to strive hard to get things done.
The soldier cum diplomat
says that he is still exploring the world of diplomacy.
Born to a multi religious
family - father, a Buddhist and mother, a Catholic and wife
Thelma, a Buddhist, Major General Perera always believes in
“I have a great respect for
the philosophy of Buddhism.
There is one thing that I
believe - if you are a good Buddhist you are a good Catholic
as well. It is not race or religion that matters but what
good you can do to the society” he says.
Having obtained a Masters
Degree in Defence and Strategic Studies (1st Class) from the
University of Madras and a Post Graduate Diploma on
Counter-Terrorism from the National Defence University,
Washington DC, he was the Director Operations from August
2006 to April, 2009. Maj. General Perera says his role-model
in the Army is Maj. Gen. Vijaya Wimalarathne.Maj. Gen.
Perera, the first serving General in the Sri Lankan Armed
Services appointed as Deputy High Commissioner of Sri Lanka
in Malaysia in April 2009 says his motto in life is - ‘Do
whatever you have to do with utmost sincerity’.
The soldier turned diplomat
who is credited for netting the most priced LTTE remnant in
Malaysia after the annihilation of the LTTE in 2009 and
reducing the LTTE network in Malaysia to zero says that he
is a humble human being in life.
Father of 18-year-old
Rukshani and four-year-old Rivin he says that he prefers to
be called Major General Udaya Perera, who has a reputation
as one of the toughest officers in the Sri Lanka Army.
“My ambition is to reach the
pinnacle of my career”, he says