Former president Chandrika Kumaratunga now says that she did not accuse the Military of sexual exploitation of women in the North.
Issuing a statement today her office, the Office for National Unity and Reconciliation has said: “ONUR would like to categorically deny that the former president Kumaratunga did not make a statement as alleged by Brig. Roshan Seneviratne and at no point did she mention or accuse the Military, as a whole, of sexual exploitation of women in the North.”
We publish below the statement in full:
The Office for National Unity and Reconciliation (ONUR) would like to state the following with regard to the statement dated 18th February 2017, released by Brig. Roshan Seneviratne, Director – Media of Sri Lanka Army.
The statement alleges that on 17th February 2017 English language papers carried an article where it quoted “the head of an ethnic reconciliation body” having stated “sexual exploitation and abuses of Tamil women by the Army in the post war scenario” and such statement would “jeopardize the reconciliation process”. The media release by Brig. Roshan Seneviratne also refers to a few incidents to demonstrate that “the Army fully cooperated with the civil court cases against the accused that were on trial”.
It appears that the news reports refer to a meeting Her Excellency Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, Chairperson of ONUR, had with the Foreign Correspondents Association (FCA) in Sri Lanka.
ONUR would like to categorically deny that the former president Kumaratunga did not make a statement as alleged by Brig. Roshan Seneviratne and at no point did she mention or accuse the Military, as a whole, of sexual exploitation of women in the North.
We are surprised that a senior Army official has not thought it fit to peruse and understand the news reports of a statement allegedly made by a former Head of State and Commander in Chief.
ONUR is an institution that is coming under the purview of the Commander in Chief, His Excellency the President and is chaired by madam Kumaratunga. It would have been good practice and common courtesy for the Director – Media of Army Headquarters to seek clarifications from ONUR before rushing to issue a statement.
Answering a series of questions from reporters on accountability and justice, former president Kumaratunga mentioned various examples including the disciplinary actions taken during her time as President by enforcing a Zero Tolerance Policy with regard to violence against civilians, within the forces, to ensure action of some do not bring disrepute to the entire military. Elaborating what has happened in the last decade or so she shared her experience of working with the Tamil community, stated that the people are not singling out war crimes courts as the single-most important matter while some in the Tamil Diaspora do.
She further stated that ONUR has been made aware of the fact that there is sexual abuse still going on by officials, demanding favours even to sign a document, even some Tamil officials, some Grama Sevakas and some people in the forces, and this needs to be dealt with sternly.
It is ironic that the incidents of physical abuse referred in the statement by the Army are all incidents regarding which Her Excellency Chandrika Kumaratunga initiated action in her capacity as the Commander in Chief during the period up to 2005. It is also interesting to note that the Army Media Director’s statement does not speak of a single incident of violence regarding which any action was instituted by the authorities after Madam Chandrika Kumaratunga’s tenure of office.