Janaka Perera

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Major General
Janaka Perera
RWP, RSP, VSV, USP
Janaka Perera 1.JPG
Leader of the opposition of the North Central Provincial Council
Former Sri Lankan High Commissioner to Australia & Ambassador to Indonesia
Personal details
Born (1946-02-01)1 February 1946
Died 6 October 2008(2008-10-06) (aged 62)
Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka
Nationality Sri Lankan
Political party United National
Occupation Military Officer, politician
Profession Military
Military service
Allegiance Sri Lanka
Service/branch Army
Years of service 1966–2001 (35 years)
Rank Major General
Unit Commando Regiment,
Sri Lanka Engineers
Commands Chief of Staff of the Sri Lanka Army,
Overall Operations Commander Northern Sector,
General Officer Commanding (GOC) of the 53 Division
Battles/wars 1971 JVP Insurrection,
Insurrection 1987-89,
Sri Lankan Civil War
Awards Rana Wickrama Padakkama,
Rana Sura Padakkama,
Vishista Seva Vibhushanaya,
Uttama Seva Padakkama,
Videsha Seva Padakkama

Major General Janaka Perera, RWP, RSP, VSV, USP, VSP, rcds, psc, CR (1 February 1946 – 6 October 2008)[1] was a Sri Lankan General and politician. He served as the Chief of Staff of the Sri Lanka Army and is considered one of the most distinguished generals in Sri Lankan history. After retiring from the army he served as a Sri Lankan High Commissioner to Australia & Ambassador to Indonesia. He was the opposition leader of the North Central Provincial Council[2] until he and his wife were killed on 6 October 2008 by a suicide bomber. The LTTE have been blamed for the bombing by Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Education[edit]

General Perera was educated at St. Joseph's College, Colombo and was accepted to University of Ceylon to study geology at the Peradeniya campus before quitting to join the Sri Lanka Army in 1966 as an Officer Cadet.[3] He received his training at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst[4] in England. After completing his training he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the 1st Field Engineer Regiment, Ceylon Engineers. Later, he transferred to the newly formed Commando Regiment.[5] Major General Pererea is a graduate of the Royal College of Defence Studies and the Defence Services Staff College.[6]

Military career[edit]

He first saw action in during the 1971 JVP Insurrection as Lieutenant and was promoted to Captain in 1973.[6]

As a Colonel, Janaka Perera took a significant role in suppressing the JVP insurrection of 1987–89. He was the Provincial Commander of the North-Western Province[4] as well as being in charge of the special operations of the Operation Combine in Colombo[4] which led to the capture of the JVP leader Rohana Wijeweera.[7] He was promoted to Brigadier in 1989.[6]

In the following years he played a significant role in combating the LTTE in the Sri Lankan Civil War, especially in the Jaffna as the Brigade Commander of the Independent Brigade, 24 Brigade, Commander – Reserve Strike Force and in the Welioya areas as first as brigade commander 6 Brigade (Welioya) and later as General Officer Commanding -Welioya after being promoted to the rank of Major General in 1996. He contributed greatly to the Sri Lankan military effort during the Eelam War III especially in the Welioya sector. General Perera has appointed general officer commanding of the 23 Division, the 51 Division & the 53 Division and was appointed Commander, Commando/Special Force Regiment on 15 April 1999.[6]

Brigadier Pererea played a major role during Operation Riviresa which led to the liberation of the Jaffna peninsula, during which he commanded the elite 53 Division which consisted of the Independent Brigade, Air Mobile Brigade, Armored Brigade and an Infantry Brigade.[8] Later he was promoted to the post of Deputy Chief of Staff and functioned as Commandant, Sri Lanka Army Command and Staff College.[6]

Following the Second Battle of Elephant Pass in April 2000 which forced the Sri Lankan Army units in Jaffna to fall back due to lack of fixed defence positions, Perera was appointed Overall Operations Commander (North) and was tasked with countering the LTTE offensive, along with Major General (now Lt. General) Sarath Fonseka who was appointed Security Forces Commander, Jaffna.[9] During this time there were fears in Colombo that the 40,000 troops in the Jaffna peninsula would be cut off, trapped, and overrun. President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga negotiated with the Indian government for ships to evacuate troops from the peninsula due to the lack of transport ships in the Navy. However, the Indian government refused to provide ships. Launching several effective counter-offensives that halted the LTTE advance, removing the threat to the Jaffna peninsula and succeeded in established the current defence line in the Jaffna peninsula.[5]

Major General Janaka Perera was appointed as Chief of Staff of the army in 2000 but retired in 2001 when he was overlooked for promotion to Army Commander, causing him to retire in 2001.[10]

He had the unique distinction of being the Colonel Commandant of the Commando Regiment, Special Forces Regiment and the Corps of Sri Lanka Engineers. Major General Janaka Perera had been awarded the gallantry medals Rana Wickrama Padakkama and Rana Sura Padakkama, the distinguished service medal the Vishista Seva Vibhushanaya, long service medals Uttama Seva Padakkama, Sri Lanka Armed Services Long Service Medal, foreign service medal Videsha Seva Padakkama, combat service medals Purna Bhumi Padakkama, North and East Operations Medal the campaign medals Vadamarachchi Operation Medal and the Riviresa Campaign Services Medal and also the Republic of Sri Lanka Armed Services Medal, 50th Independence Anniversary Medal 1998, Sri Lanka Army 50th Anniversary Medal and President's Inauguration Medal.[6]

Diplomatic career[edit]

Following his retirement he was made Sri Lanka's High Commissioner to Australia and later Sri Lanka's Ambassador to Indonesia, but was recalled before his term ended.

Accusation of war crime

After he was appointed Sri Lanka's High Commissioner to Australia, the Tamil community there accused him of being responsible for hundreds of deaths and the torture of Tamils in the Jaffna peninsula when he was in command. About 300 Tamils protested outside the Australian parliament accusing General Perera of war crimes. The human rights group Amnesty International raised similar concerns.[11] However, no formal charges were ever brought against General Perera and he served his full four years as Sri Lankan High Commissioner in Australia, after which he was Sri Lankan Ambassador to Indonesia.

Political career[edit]

Since his retirement from his diplomatic career, General Perera has taken into active politics as a member and an organiser of the United National Party (UNP).[7][12]

During the 2008 North Central Provincial Council election, which he claimed to be marred by violence, he was as the UNP candidate for the post of Chief Minister for the North Central Province, although he gained the most preferential votes his party failed to gained a majority in the council, therefore became the opposition leader Provincial Council.

Family[edit]

Janaka Perera married Vajira de Silva, one of the first six lady officers to join the Sri Lanka Army Women's Corps in 1982. Vajira trained at the Women's Royal Army Corps College in 1980.[13] She wasn't the only person in her family to join the army; her brother was Lieutenant Upul de Silva was KIA. Janaka and Vajira Perera had three children together: Janukshi, Shehara and Ashanka.[14]

Death[edit]

Janaka Perera and his wife were killed by a suspected suicide bomb blast on 6 October 2008 in Anuradhapura. The bombing which occurred at the United National Party office near the Old Bus Stand in Anuradhapura, killed about 27 civilians and politicians while injuring 90 more. The dead included 4 UNP provincial councillors and former Sri Lankan Ambassador and UNP party manager in Anuradhapura Dr John Pulle and his wife.[15] The government blamed the attack on the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.[16] The UNP and opposition leader Ranil Wickremesinghe has asked for an international investigation on the death of Janaka Perera and numerous others.[17][18] The government has been blamed by Wikremesinghe and others for not providing adequate security for General Perera, who had to ask the Supreme Court for protection during the provincial council election when the government candidate was given security and he was not.[3]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by
L. P. Balagalle
Chief of Staff of the Sri Lanka Army
2000–2001
Succeeded by
S.H.S. Kottegoda