By Colombo Telegraph –
Former Army Chief and Common candidate at the 2010 Presidential election, Sarath Fonseka hit out at the negotiators of his release today, saying that he was yet to see a single document pertaining to his release, six months after he was freed from Welikada Prison.
“I still don’t know the details of my release. All I was told was to bring my bag of belongings and come outside. They didn’t tell me anything else. I think that in some ways I am still a prisoner in Welikada. The only difference is that I am outside those walls. Other than that I have not seen a single letter. In fact, when I was leaving Welikada Prison, I didn’t even sign a book saying I was leaving to go home,” the former General told the Sinhalese Lankadeepa in an interview yesterday.
He told the newspaper that he had instructed DNA MP Tiran Alles to negotiate on the basis of four key points pertaining to his release – that he would be given full security afforded to him before his incarceration, that his civic rights would be restored, that everything he lost as a result of his incarceration would be reinstated and that he would be allowed to carry out his political activities without hindrance.
Striking out at the negotiator of his release who recently quit the General’s political movement, Fonseka said – “perhaps Tiran Alles negotiated the best he could. But all I am saying is that I didn’t get the result I expected from these negotiations.”
Alles and DNA MP Arjuna Ranatunga recently quit the former General’s political movement, an unregistered political party called the Democratic Party. However, both Alles and Ranatunga remain members of the Democratic National Alliance, the opposition coalition forged under Fonseka’s leadership that includes the JVP and won seven seats in the 2010 parliamentary election. Alles is a National List MP of the alliance, appointed by Fonseka.
Referring to Alles and Ranatunga’s role in his release, Fonseka charged that Ranatunga had played no part in the negotiations for his release. He also said that while none of his conditions had been met, the President had made political mileage with his release. “The President used it to his advantage. He made it an opportunity to release me because at the time there was massive international pressure calling for my release. The Maha Sanga, the religious leaders in this country they were all calling for my release. The pressure from all these sections on the Government was intense. That is why they released me. So one person alone cannot claim the glory for that,” the former Army Chief said.
Fonseka added that neither Ranatunga nor Alles have a mandate from the people and only achieved their positions because of their proximity to him. “These are people who got a vote or two and then aspired to high ranking positions by being in my shadow. They became somebodies because they were close to me. People like that ultimately leave. There is nothing I can do about it. I didn’t go to them to become a somebody. The people of this country know that,” he told Lankadeepa.
Referring to Alles’ claim that he had forgotten to be grateful Fonseka said: “I didn’t go to jail for stealing or breaking into houses. I went to jail for carrying out a political campaign for my country and my people. I was imprisoned on false charges. Before that I fought to rid this country of terrorism. So even though I went to jail, the people of this country continued to be grateful. They grieved for me. They spoke for me. They cried for me. They held bodhi poojas for me. When I came out, none of them expected anything from me in return – and yet none of them say I am not grateful.”
Alles negotiated for months to get Fonseka out of prison but no details of the release were ever made public. The former Army Commander was released from Welikada on May 21, 2012. Tiran Alles who has been a DNA MP representing Fonseka’s party for more than two years, was finally goaded into speaking after Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe took jibes at him during a parliamentary session recently. Reading a prepared speech, in his response, Alles charged that Wickremesinghe was not doing his job as leader of the opposition even though he was maintained at tax-payers expense. Wickremesinghe shot back in his reply that he was an elected member of parliament and had been for decades and added that he was even elected to the position of UNP Leader, unlike the national list DNA MP. The UNP Leader said that MPs were maintained by the people and could not get away with not speaking on the peoples’ behalf in the legislature.