21 September, 2020

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Fonseka Is Between Scylla And Charybdis – Diaspora Will Try Him!

By Uvindu Kurukulasuriya

Any which way one looks at a Fonseka pardon, he is between the devil and the deep blue sea. Speculation is rife whether the former army commander Sarath Fonseka will be given a presidential pardon before the March 2012 United Nations Human Rights Council sessions. Even if he is pardoned, it looks like he will be faced with a war crimes trial abroad. Fonseka is a Legal Permanent Resident in the United States and has family and property in Oklahoma.
A leaked US Embassy cable, dated 15 January 2010, updated the Secretary of State on war crimes accountability, following the end of the country’s long and bloody conflict. Ambassador Butenis noted there had been some limited progress in investigating potential war crimes, but added: “There are no examples we know of a regime undertaking wholesale investigations of its own troops or senior officials for war crimes while that regime or government remained in power. In Sri Lanka this is further complicated by the fact that responsibility for many of the alleged crimes rests with the country’s senior civilian and military leadership, including President Rajapaksa and his brothers and opposition candidate General Fonseka”.

The Colonel referred to in the quotation above who led a battalion into Kalmunai from Amparai town is Sarath Fonseka. His name has been associated with the massacre of several hundred Tamil civilians in the area comprising Kalmunai and Akkaraipattu during June-July 1990

Americans even cancelled Fonseka’s Hawii visit due to their concerns about his involvement in human rights violations. In another “confidential” cable dated November 2, 2009 the US Ambassador wrote; “On November 2, Foreign Minister Bogollagama called in Ambassador regarding reports that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security had requested that Sri Lankan Chief of Defense (CHOD) Sarath Fonseka come in for a ‘voluntary’ interview with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in Oklahoma City on November 4.”
“Bogollagama said the interview was a matter of ‘urgency and relevance’ to the government of Sri Lanka and asked for information to ‘help us understand and formulate a proper reaction’. Ambassador recounted recent developments regarding Fonseka, including cancellation of his invitation to attend the recent Chief of Defense conference in Hawaii due to U.S. concerns about his involvement in human-rights violations during the conflict with the LTTE.”
In the same cable Butenis said; “Bogollagama said what concerned the GoSL were reports that a DHS lawyer had allegedly told Fonseka that the purpose of the interview was to gather information about the possible involvement of war crimes of SL Defense Secretary and the president’s brother and U.S. citizen Gotabhaya Rajapaksa. Bogollagama said any questioning of Fonseka about SL ‘official’ information would be frowned upon by the GoSL and ‘could seriously impact our relationship’.”
If you look at the Aide Memoire which the Sri Lankan government sent to the US State Department regarding Fonseka’s interview issue you can see what the GoSL was trying to hide. It says; Chief of Defence Staff is a high level position within the Sri Lanka Government.  General Fonseka is on an official visit on behalf of the Government of Sri Lanka. He travelled to the United States on a diplomatic passport for a prearranged appointment and other US Government Agencies. Moreover, whatever General Fonseka may have become aware of during his service with the Government of Sri Lanka and in the course of his duties, has the status of privileged information. He has no authority to divulge or share this information with third parties, without the prior approval and consent of the Sri Lanka authorities.”
Talking to this columnist, US based Donald Gnanakone from “Tamils for Justice” said; “we are interested and determined to expose the truth, and make everyone involved including US Citizens and Residents, fully accountable for their crimes, and provide evidence of other officials’ crimes. Justice needs to be served and it can only be done if the truth is told. Since Fonseka is a US resident we will get DOJ and DHS to investigate US Citizens and Residents”.
“All are presumed innocent and the US judicial system would definitely give them a fair trial after initial impartial investigations, with full deposition via the attorneys of the victims. Now the 3 year anniversary is fast approaching and the US itself is guilty of dragging its feet, and all underestimate the resolve of the Tamil diaspora,” Gnanakone further said.
‘We will not rest until the perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity are brought to justice. Fonseka stands accused of all of the crimes mentioned above,” another Tamil daispoara activist  Thiru Thiruchchthi from the France-based House of Tamil Eelam said.
The London based well-known anti-LTTE activist, the head of ENDLF Europe and Chairman of Tamil Broadcasting Cooperation Ramaraj Veerahia said; “If there is no truth, justice and accountability then the two communities will never reconcile. So we will try Fonseka for war crimes in Europe.”
Sarath Fonseka is accused for various crimes against humanity. Not only his acts with regard to the war, he was even accused of abducting, attacking and killing Journalists. It was not only Lasantha Wickramatunge; (speaking in parliament the opposition leader Ranil Wickremesinghe at that time said the killers reported back to Sarath Fonseka. For me, however it would not be just a Fonseka act. Lasantha was a high profile journalist and killing Lasantha needed political approval), what about the killings of North East Tamil journalists? Almost all journalists who were assassinated were from Army controlled areas.
A superficial position long advanced by a large section of people in Sri Lanka and elsewhere is that military effectiveness and human rights are incompatible. Now the whole bloody war crimes issue is limiting the issue to crimes committed by both sides during the final stage of the war.  What about the horrendous crimes committed by all sides during the war? In his book “The Arrogance of Power” (2000) Dr Rajan Hoole who is a well known critic of the LTTE describes Fonseka’s account as follows, “We refer to a second point of view – that which guided our reporting over the years, namely how the Tamil people saw the Army and the security services during that period – the early 90s. Here the distinctions made in Colombo between moderates and hawks, and between gentlemen and cads had little or no meaning. Kobbekaduwe was in charge at Amparai when a battalion under him commanded by Colonel Sarath Fonseka committed terrible atrocities in Kalmunai, Akkaraipattu and the surrounding areas during June 1990.”
University Teachers of Human Rights Report No. 7 of May 1991 gave what certain army officers who mixed with civilians disclosed. They confided how they had been affected in the aftermath of massive and arbitrary reprisals against Tamil civilians in the Eastern Province, beginning in June 1990: “… Several of these officers would generally be against antagonising the civilians unnecessarily and would not risk the lives of their men on doubtful ventures. The knowledge that the battalion which first went into Kalmunai and indulged in widespread massacres, later suffered grievous casualties to the point of wrecking the commander’s career, has also made an impression on them!”
According to Rajan Hoole’s book in 2000; Among the officers who felt disturbed were Colonel H. Halangoda who in the latter half of 1990 was in Kaluwanchikudy south of Batticaloa and Colonel Percy Fernando who was in Batticaloa. These officers were friends and contemporaries, and had made friends among the civilian population. They generally liked to think that they were considerate and fair by the civilians, and believed that a political solution was the only way out. Many of them were like General Kobbekaduwe spoken of as the ‘doves’ or the ‘moderate wing’ of the Army. We had also commended the disciplined conduct of troops under Halangoda. The Colonel referred to in the quotation above who led a battalion into Kalmunai from Amparai town is Sarath Fonseka. His name has been associated with the massacre of several hundred Tamil civilians in the area comprising Kalmunai and Akkaraipattu during June-July 1990.  …it is very difficult to pick out doves and hawks in the Army based on such events. Colonel Fonseka caused a river of blood to flow in Kalmunai. But his superior was General Kobbekaduwe who was placed in charge at Amparai – a so-called ‘dove’.” To this day no proper tribunal has gone into who was responsible.
In another chapter Hoole says “Here we have eloquent testimony to the consequences of an arrogant and cavalier approach to Human Rights. Thus, given the plight of the Army at that time, Janaka Perera found himself thrust from virtual retirement into becoming Sri Lanka’s final hope. Sarath Fonseka from being regarded a write-off in 1990, joined Janaka Perera in Jaffna. At this juncture they prevented the fall of Jaffna which earlier seemed foregone. It also confirmed that any residual prospect of the Kumaratunge government punishing officers responsible for gross violations had vanished. Two such officers had evidently become indispensable. The process by which this came about entails a heavy price to be borne by the country that is already manifest.”
It is worth to quote Amal Jayasinghe, long time bureau chief for Agence France-Presse in Colombo and a friend of journalist Namal Perera. Namal was nearly abducted near an army camp in Colombo and during the attack suffered a severe beating. Jayasinghe says they saw a more relaxed Namal, just after Fonseka was jailed on corruption charges and sentenced to 30 months in jail (See Lucinda Fleeson American Journalism Review). Namal is a Sinhala man. What about the Tamils then?
A law student at Tulane University School of Law in the US and activist from Tamils Against Genocide Rajeev Sreetharan said to this columnist; “The possibility of retributive justice for egregious state-sponsored violations of human rights and international humanitarian law has been a chimera in Sri Lanka’s legal universe since independence. As Fonseka is present in Sri Lanka, action against Fonseka would ultimately bottleneck on the enforceability of international extradition treaties between the forum jurisdiction and Sri Lanka, arguably making Commonwealth member-states a workable option to initiate litigation on the supposition jurisdiction over crimes committed in Sri Lanka maybe established through the extra-territorial application of law or the theory of universal jurisdiction within the respective domestic legal system. We are looking for opportunities to bring such cases, with access to victims and enough evidence to prove a particular war crime under Fonseka.”
Equivocation on criminality in the name of peace has made peace ever more remote. Impunity and history are catching us up with a zeal corresponding to our determination to ignore them.  To deny command responsibility is to fall behind the world in denying justice all together in such matters and to wallow in Sri Lanka’s present morass.

uvindu@journalist.com

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    Very true.

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    “If there is no truth, justice and accountability then the two communities will never reconcile. So we will try Fonseka for war crimes in Europe.” 100% agree. we need to try all who responsible for crimes against humanity. Thank you for this article.

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      I guess your dad violate your mom to get u out to this world, so it is a crime too you a hole.

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    If they should have put him jail for war crimes.

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    A superficial position long advanced by a large section of people in Sri Lanka and elsewhere is that military effectiveness and human rights are incompatible. Now the whole bloody war crimes issue is limiting the issue to crimes committed by both sides during the final stage of the war. What about the horrendous crimes committed by all sides during the war?

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    From allegations of war crimes in the last weeks of the war that ended in May 2009, now the allegations have shifted to actions in 1991. By the law of command resposibility the final responsibility should lie with the Commander in Chief at that time who was President Premedasa.

    If it is inquiring into US citizens , the first to be investigated should be President George W Bush war the indisputed war crimes in Iraq.

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      Well said. What about the summary executions of “terrorists” by US standards who are judged freedom fighters for those supporting the state of Palestine. Innocent civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Fonseka was the head of an army that were fighting terrorists just as the Us of A claims it is doing. So who are they to judge.
      Gnanakoone was against the LTTE on certain days and then for them on others. He was very committed to the fate of “his people” but did nothing to advise them to allow the Tamil voters make Ranil Wickremasinghe the President. He should be held responsible for the deaths of the people during the latter stages of the war since the main LTTE leaders have all been wiped out. Donald Gnanakon has many majestic ideas we have to admit but he must be in Sri Lanka to see the improvements to the people in the Vanni since his good friends perished.

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    Now the bugger accused others. what about the crimes committed by him? read this: Jaffna Security Forces Commander Major General Mahinda Hathurusinghe told The Sunday Leader that Fonseka was making baseless allegations while serving a prison sentence on several charges.
    The BBC Sinhala service quoted Fonseka as telling reporters outside court on Friday January 20, that the current security forces commander in Jaffna, Major General Hathurusinghe, was responsible for the spate of abductions and disappearances in Jaffna.
    http://www.thesundayleader.lk/2012/01/22/army-slams-fonseka/

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    Every dog has it’s day Uvindu. What goes around comes around. He will be punished.

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      This is a different song and a different dance. The Sunday Leader fixed this man with a honey pot. He does not deserve this.

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    SF will get the message and Morons in SL will understand the American dynamics…

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    Man serve the interests of Majority and save the country from ruthless murdering LTTE. Now suddenly dead LTTE are similar to those who died while observing sil by Jaya Sri Maha Bodi. Boo.. Hoo…

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    @Rahula, everybody knows and knew LTTE’s ruthlessness, That’s why they were banned everywhere. Besides, one should not compare non-state actors and state actors. We don’t expect elected government or its servants killing civilians. Killing LTTErs in the war is not a war crime, but killing civilians is a war crime. That is some thing you have to understand.
    BTW I didnt read that cast article. but just google and found it. Are you talking about this article?

    “Sarath Fonseka,Caste Factor and Presidential Poll; a Historical Irony”

    http://transcurrents.com/tc/2009/12/sarath_fonsekacaste_factor_and.html

    If yes , read it again my friend, you can not say “dragging the cast of General Fonseka” It is a good analytical piece of writing.

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      Killing civilians is a war crime. There is no argument on that. The problam is so far the existing technology of the war in the world is not competent enough in safeguarding the innocent civilians or animals in a war zone. There was no single war in the world that didn’t damage civilians. What about first Iraq war,second Iraq war, Afghan war, Israel attacks in Gaza … do you think that nothing has happened to Civilians! Please compare what happened here with the things happened in the world.
      General Fonseka himself is a victim of both war and terrorism. He did a dedicated service for this country. This article shows Uvindu’s wish is to try him at Hague. He is provoking something. Please see the article written by Frederika previous week. It is also against General Fonseka. Then Uvindu. Who is next please? They don’t see the good side of work he has done. Sunday Leader tries to construct a common notion against him. He should not have commanded this war. He should have let Sri Lanka suffer forever.

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        I appreciate your flow. but Journalists cannot try any one. what Uvindu says is Tamils are willing to try him. I thank Uvindu for bringing the issue. That is something this SF campaigners must understand. I believe he is a political victim and the same time a war criminal. I am against this politically motivated trails, but as a SINHGHALESE im against killings un armed people.

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        Well said Rahula,

        Poor Tamils and Sihalise died due to the war tactics used by LTTE, this so called “GOOD READER” with a pohh brain cant understand that.

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    Rahula,

    “.. You once criticized President Rajapaksha’s qualifications. But you didn’t discussed the profitability or the progress of the companies and organizations where our MBA guys are sitting. You didn’t discuss the high business ranks of some the world class companies where CEO’s started at very low positions. It is the unfairness of your writing…”

    When even the MBA guys are finding it difficult to show progress and profitability are you nuts to presume a bunch of uneducated, uncultured bastards like Rajapakshas can achieve what even the most accomplished find hard to achieve? On the other hand you are perfectly correct highlighting the high business ranks the Rajapakshas have achieved from a very low and mean position!

    Rajapakshas have achieved all these wealth, treasures, privileges and power solely due to the abuse of power of executive presidency. Before 2005 most of them were not even in the country doing various odd jobs like gasoline pump operator. Like ants to sugar they have swarmed in to plunder everything that has sale value.

    History around the year 2005 is repeating itself now under a modified script. In 2005 Prabakaran took a historical decision towards establishing a separate state. He knew if Ranil won LTTE would not get the international backing to set up their dream state as Ranil’s diplomacy, statesmanship and democratic approaches would nullify their claim for a separate state. He therefore took the shrewd and cunning decision to help Mahinda win the Presidential Election. He foresaw Mahinda’s shortsighted political approach coupled and enhanced with all the racial, nationalistic and chauvinistic mobs like JVP, JHU, the stupid monks, SL Gunasekara, Gunadasa Amarasekara etc. around him. If Mahinda was weak Prabakaran would achieve Tamil State by terrorism, if both on even terms then war would drag on indefinitely with them trying different approaches, if their struggle were to be crushed militarily they would leave enough war crime trails against SL Army and State to bring about a separate state perhaps posthumously created through international mediation and war crime allegations. The uneducated Rajapakshas not knowing how to solve the ethnic problem and establish good governance have created the ideal conditions which the Prabakaran calculated would happen under Rajapaksha rule for the seed of a Tamil state to grow. Not only are the Tamils now victimized but the very Sinhalese too are at the receiving end of Rajapakshas despotic, anti-humanism, barbaric, anti-democratic and criminal measures. Rajapakshas have now advanced so much so that now it is reported that the “white vans” have been evolved and engineered into mobile incinerators to ashify abducted persons while on the move!

    Rahula, you are a historical barrier, an obstacle and a bond to misery as even the Buddha found 2500 years ago! People like you are real enemies of truth because you go on telling the lie. Rajapakshas poor education and qualification fiasco is a proven and real fact, an actuality neither do they fall within, as you try to portray, the “naturals” who have ascended from grass-root level. What the Rajapakshas can boast of as achievement is a colossal mess of inefficiency, corruption, malpractice, nepotism, destruction of law and order and democracy and all the evil things that goes round in the country. Just look at his close friends: the murderers, rapists, thieves, thugs; and not a single respected person is close to them!

    As for Fonseka, Sri Lankans are indebted to him for eradicating the LTTE against all the odd. It is not Rajapakshas ranting but his war plan that paved the way for war victory. However, as Uvindu has written here there are issues that make it difficult for his to govern the country. No doubt he is popular and people will vote him. But now there are other political realities that make his political future dim and obscure the first and foremost of which was his failure to assimilate himself with the largest vote base opposed to the government that is UNP-not the splint of it! During presidential election it was ok to be a neutral and common candidate. But once it was over he blundered. He is a political prisoner and it is through correct political orientation only he can come out of this deadlock.

    Being in prison he can’t do much to free himself. It is only under a new government he would stand a chance. Who is the best bet to do that while also effectively managing the international pressure now on Sri Lanka due to Rapapaksha maladministration?

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    Guys, we do not need to question MR education cos from 1040s on wards this country was managed by people who did not have a proper education, D.Senanayake, Sirimawo B, CBK, Premadasa, D B Wijetunga etc… list goes on. People who question the qualifications of MR should first must state what qualifications they got???

    The so called educated leaders messed-up with the LTTE /Tamil issues, for example Ranil W and SWRD B, made historical blunders when it comes to Tamil & LTTE issues.

    Get a life man…

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    Sri Lanka is swarmed with cesspit-mouthed pigs like SAM who never understand difference between education and ignorance.

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    Thanks for this awesome posting. It saved MUCH time :-)

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    See you in Hague! Sinful man must incur punishment for sure.

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    Spot on Rahula! Uvindu has nothing else but WikiLeaks, Rajan Hoole’s “The Arrogance of Power” and a few Tamil diaspora contacts including Donald Gnanakone as sources. I wonder why CT’s comment policy didn’t apply for Gabriel’s comment :D

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    LTTE diaspora too is also between scylla and charybdis.

    Sri Lankans will try the cunning LTTE rump at once the opportunity is there.

    LTTE war crimes in Sri Lanka were funded by the LTTE diaspora. Propaganda to justify LTTE war crimes were run from western bases by the cunning LTTE diaspora. For 30 long years!

    Uvindu, please shed some light on the cunning, blood thirsty and racist LTTE diaspora.

    Sri Lanka bring them to justice!

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    Uvindu ought to go on the TamilNet.They will hug him with open arms.This is nothing new coming out of the paid defeated Tamil Tiger lackeys.Now that the Ealam day dream had been smashed keep on day dreaming of so called war crimes.Day dream till you drop dead of old age!

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