By P. Soma Palan –
I refer to the two diametrically opposite statements made by:
1. Former Army Commander, Field Marshall General Sarath Fonseka and now a Minister in the Government, has said as reported in the front page of the Daily Mirror of the 2nd September headlined, “I am ready to give evidence against General Jagath Jayasuriya,” and
2. The President’s statement in the Daily Mirror of 4th September, under the front page headline that “I won’t allow War Crimes charges against General Jagath Jayasuriya”
These two antithetical statements exposes that, the Government does not have a unified stand on one and the same matter.
In respect of (b) above, one does not know whether it is the personal view of the President or it is that of the Government. If it is the personal view of the President, it is of no consequence. If it is the decision of the Government, then the Field Marshall is violating the principle of collective responsibility of the Government. The stand of the President and that of the Field Marshall are conflicting and contradictory.
Irrespective of above, judging objectively the validity of both statements, one is inclined to accept the stand of the Field Marshall, Sarath Fonseka for following reasons:
1. The Field Marshall is objective and has the courage to face the challenge of an International Inquiry against General Jagath Jayasuriya. His statement is a positive one that he is prepared to give evidence against the General , and not against an inquiry against the General. If it was the latter, then the matter is open. His evidence could be either against or in defense of the General. Whereas, the Field Marshall has positively and in no uncertain terms stated that his evidence will be against the General. This means then, the War Crimes charges against the General is prima facie valid and maintainable.
2. Field Marshall Sarath Fonseka was the Operational Field Commander of the war against the LTTE. He was privy to the operational conduct of the War. Therefore, his evidence would be crucial, credible and carries weight than that of a non-combatant President.
On the other hand, one cannot accept the statement of the President for the reasons that:
1. In the first place, he was not the President and the nominal Commander of the Armed forces during the War.
2. Hence, the President was not privy to, and had no direct knowledge of the conduct of the war. Therefore, the position of the Field Marshall is overridingly valid.
3. Whilst the Country being a member of the World Body, the United Nations Organisation, and its Agencies, such as the UNHRC, it cannot defy the world body. The UNO and its Agencies is charged with the responsibility to maintain world peace and order, and uphold International Law and International Humanitarian Law. Sri Lanka is under obligation to support the actions of the UNO and the UNHRC. It can defy only by leaving the World Body.
4. The President says that the “threat of War Crimes charges and hostile attitude of the Global community against Sri Lanka was the direct result of Mahinda Rajapaksa’s regime’s failure to create an atmosphere of Reconciliation, Reconstruction and Rehabilitation” after the end of war. This argument does not hold water. The war crimes charges are not connected to the three ‘R’s. It is independent of it. With or without the post war three ‘R’s, the charges will stand. It will not absolve the Country of the War Crimes charges.
5. Finally, it is only an indictment of charges, which has to be proved in a Judicial Court of Inquiry. Then why disallow a Court Inquiry, unless you know it is true.