12 June, 2024


Sarath Fonseka’s ‘Words Of Truth’ Are Troublesome To Most

By Vishwamithra

“The greatest enemy of clear language is insincerity.” ~ George Orwell

The separation occurred soon after the cessation of the war. In the immediate aftermath of the end of the war, the Rajapaksas had nothing short of praise and flattery for General Sarath Fonseka, the man who led his forces to a victorious end of the most destructive conflict between the government forces and the LTTE-led Tamil militant groups. There is no dispute about who gave military leadership to the soldiers of the Army, Navy and Air Force. The astute leadership qualities of General Fonseka, while he was still the Army Commander, were the qualities the Rajapaksas announced to the country as exemplary and worthy of idolization. Now they seem to be empty rhetoric. Politicians are notorious for such meaningless words. They rarely mean what they utter on the political platform. Being used to deception by words and action, politicians are seldom matched by any other for abuse of language. The Rajapaksas belong to that miserable category.

The war-victory gave them a very plausible avenue to trek. And they willingly chose to travel that path. Sarath Fonseka’s tirade against former Jagath Jayasuriya, Army Commander who in fact succeeded him, may have contained many truths; the allegations Fonseka hurled against Jayasuriya are not light; they are indeed in the realm of abuse of human rights and would have arisen the curiosity of many international organizations whose sharpened daggers are already in readiness to be used. Fonseka would have been justified had he been only a private citizen, having retired from the Army. Sarath Fonseka must remember that he is not a private citizen anymore. He is now Field Marshal and a politician and a Cabinet Minister. He being forthright will not suffice in the grand scheme of things; he should also be wise. Wisdom is not an inborn quality; it is a product of patience, it dawns on you when you have enough and grueling experience tempered by iron discipline of mind. Only a handful of Sri Lankan politicians could be classified as wise and Sarath Fonseka has time and again proved that he has not arrived at the lofty summit of wisdom.

Fonseka was the Commander of the Army when Jagath Jayasuriya is purported to have committed these gross violations of human rights. With all his wit, street-smartness, superlative skills and capacity on the military field and despite his acumen as an alert leader and domineering personality, Sarath Fonseka did walk into the political dump that the Rajapaksas mined. And he got burnt. His rhetoric as a candidate against Mahinda Rajapaksa at the Presidential Elections of 2009 went a way out of line; his perception of forthrightness was not framed within political correctness and he paid the ultimate price in politics- a defeat at the elections. And his humiliation did not cease at the elections. Mahinda’s vengeance apparently knew no limit. General Sarath Fonseka was arrested, tried and sentenced to prison. Fonseka’s political education was eventually sourced from within the prison cell.

The fake heroes who did not even throw a stone at the Tigers during the twenty eight-year-war against Tamil militants are now berating the hero who commanded the forces during a brutal and exhausting battle that claimed tens of thousands of men and women on both sides. It is in fact a great insult to those soldiers who fell on the battlefield to disparage the commander of the forces. Yet the excesses that may have been committed by both sides cannot and should not be condoned; nor could they be suppressed for what may come out is too bitter to swallow. That is to confront the human spirit.     

When the spirit of any character is challenged with stark evidence of gross violations of fellow men and women, it is incumbent upon that man or woman to be accountable and that accountability; that element of accountability is an integral and differentiating quality of any human being who is counted as a decent and civilized one. Without that civility and decency, man falls into a quarry in which those who meander about in the land of degenerates and deranged. Our leaders must show some semblance of courage and moral purity in meting out justice and civility. The Joint Opposition which is guided by the Rajapaksas who, in the first place were the beneficiaries of ‘patriotism-euphoria’ that was almost flawlessly built up by their propaganda specialists; they have been using this tribal belief of nationalism which was always misunderstood for patriotism; they won elections, one after another, for Provincial Councils, Pradesheeya Sabha and Urban Councils with this phony patriotism. While ransacking the country’s national treasures like their own private property, they portrayed these alleged violators of human rights as war heroes.

The parliamentary Opposition at the time was deaf, dumb and blind. Embroiled in their own leadership battles, they hardly had any time to craft a strategic approach to counter this patriotism-based propaganda onslaught of the Rajapaksa goons. However, this patriotism-based propaganda not only gave a cover for the Rajapaksas, it also provided the general public with a triumphalism-based collective egoism, especially for Sinhalese Buddhists. Not only did the people get deceived beyond any precedent, the looters branded themselves as the custodians of all morals and good governance and phony patriotism was their sartorial elegance. The Opposition at the time feared this ‘patriotism’-garbed cabal that ruled the country. What gave away the nudity of their posture was the 18th Amendment. That 18th Amendment provided the ruling cabal with seemingly unlimited playing time on a field fairly barren of vociferous and courageous political minds. At the time, Sarath Fonseka was still in prison. His was a powerful voice of opposition against those so-called patriots; those ‘patriots’ feared a fresh voice; they wanted to still that voice and at least in the short run, they succeeded.

Now Fonseka is on a different wicket. He is a parliamentarian and a Cabinet Minister. And above all he is a UNPer. He has willfully engaged in a controversial subject: Human rights violations by Sri Lankan security forces. On top of that, he also indulged in hurling even harsher criticism against one of those Buddhist Monks whose social and religious standing, especially among the Colombo cocktail cockroaches is rather unimpeachable. But Fonseka’s words about Elle Gunawansa, another person garbed in saffron robes that had a not-so-pure image in regard to ethno-religious relations, were cutting and sharp. However, Fonseka’s flaw- not yet fatal of course- seems to be timing and not following through with his critiques and sustaining them.

What is even more telling is the deathly silence of the leadership of the coalition. That silence is not going to help them in the long run. They must respond one way or other. By being silent does not drive the issue away; on the contrary, it amounts to being perceived as politically impotence. Sarath Fonseka is not known for political correctness. As a matter of fact political correctness has helped the country in the wrong way. It has framed those who need to express themselves freely in a cosmetic cage of ‘correctness’. Yet Field Marshal Fonseka has chosen to free himself of the shackles of a caged animal. His character, that of a fearless leader and forthright speaker of the truth, should stand out as an exemplary one, yet it should not display any recklessness that no modern political leader of any caliber to reckon with would be weighed down by. Societal inhibitions need to be addressed, if any political leader aspires to gain political power through the ballet. The collective mindset of any electorate invariably oscillates between varying options; it tends to absorb more of the superficial stuff than profound political theories. The United National Party in which camp Fonseka is saddled with today has had some superlative leaders, both at the highest level and the second tires. M D Banda, U B Wanninayake, M D H Jayewardene, M V P Peiris, Sir Lalitha Rajapaksa of the fifties and sixties and Lalith Athulathmudali, Gamini Dissanayake and Nissanka Wijeyratne in the seventies and eighties, cannot be matched by any second-tier leaders in any other political party. In terms of electorate-acceptance and real accomplishment of monumental tasks given unto them, no second-tier political leader even comes close. For that matter their accomplishments are not matched by the first-tier leaders of other parties.

But today Sarath Fonseka finds himself in a radically changed political culture, whose convoluted milieu is made up of utterly corrupt and short-sighted politicos. Their purpose of entering into politics is to enrich themselves at the expense of the country. What is more unpatriotic that that?                      

It is quite futile to dwell in the past and lament. If the environment is not sharp enough to produce good leaders, then we must change the environment. That is not easy and won’t be accomplished in just months a couple of years. But we all owe it our children that we leave a better place for them. Who amongst us is ready and willing to carry that burden?

The writer can be contacted at vishwamithra1984@gmail.com   

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Latest comments

  • 5

    When one clutches at the straw called “Sarath Fonseka” one knows the author is desperate….

    • 2

      Fonseka was 1971 batch and Jagath was 1978 batch. 17 other officers were overlooked when Jagath was promoted to Commander and gives the impression that it was politically motivated. These are the drawbacks of executive presidency !!

      Also as a Sinhalese, I have no issue if an independent party looking into whether any HR violations were committed during the last phase of the war.

      This should be applicable to both LTTE and the forces.

      What is the issue?

  • 8

    What better example do we need than the uneducated obviously extremely evil Rajapaksas that certain educational requirements are essential for members of Parliament?

  • 3

    The writer should know that Sarath Fonseka of ex-Army Commander is not single handle by War against Tamil LTTE –politics of—ruthless and merciless. It was team work by all security forces that including Political leadership of President Mahianda Rajapakese factor also unique.
    By 30 years of War on LTTE Terrorism that ” Tamil Homeland” was promoted by TNA,UNP-Ranil Wicks and CBK an idea of Feudal-Federalism has done an irreparable damages to our 2600 years civilization.
    By extended of Tamil Terrorism later of SVJ – FP Federalism and TULF Tamil liberation , 1976 at last TNA also that armed maneuvering behind-LTTE has been an undermined modern political democracy–Sri lanka.
    The writer has sensible & consciously of the political description of world ,how it worked and where it was change radically after 9/11 attack.
    The Global politics has turn into new height of that Democracy versus and Terrorism has an open new Global politics and Local Democracy .
    The historical reasons of LTTE ‘s Tamil tigers has not rooms to survival in country of democracy even after 2009 May defeated was inventible by MR Progressive led alliance.
    Even there is endless talk of to saying that UNP’s ### Sarath Fonseka a role of defeating LTTE was important, but it was not DECSIVICE factor in history!!!
    If we summarized facts of WAR by LTTE defeated, it was team work many who lost hundred thousand of life security forces that was not that single work did by one army Commander ?

    • 7

      Srisena Yatawara,
      You should know that the war victory against Tamil LTTE is not only a team work of security forces and former President Mahinda Rajapakse, it is a comination of regional, international cooperation. If you know the history Tamil homeland is real and true and you should know there were 3 kingdoms before Sinhalese surrended to European invaders before 600 years.
      You talk about 2600 years of civilization but we realised the truth about your civilisation once the British handed over the power to you. How do you explain the brutal massacre of Tamil civilians in 1958, 1962, 1972, 1977, 1983 by that civilisation. How do you explain the masscre of over 5000 innocent Tamils in 2009? Did you mean the massacring and butchering innocent civilians as your civilisation. Even this week we show the brutality of Buddhist monks on islamic refugees. Don’t misuse the good terms like civilisation, buddhism to justify your brutal unhumane actions. The first Sinhalese leader who advocated federalism was SWRD Bandaranaiyake (SLFP). Do you know that Mahinda Rajapakse paid large sum of money to LTTE? Do you know most of the LTTE leaders escaped Srilanka after 2009 paying millions to Rajapakse family?

    • 4

      What did Mahinda Rajapaksa do to win the war? He was just a civilian with no knowledge of military actions, warfare and anything related to war. It is definitely the works of the arm-forces which led to the victory not the Rajapaksas. Also, definitely, SF as the general of the ground forces should be more credit for providing proper leadership.

  • 7

    “Sarath Fonseka did walk into the political dump that the Rajapaksas mined.”

    Who lured him into the dump? Twentieth Century Fox Ranil Wickramasinghe. In his usual pattern of political scheming. While Sarath F was still in uniform. Primary objective being to create divisions within armed force as well as between security forces and Rajapaksa. Remember how the Fox broke up Chandrika government? Then how he enticed Sirisena? UNPers even boast that Ranil created the division between Prabhakaran and Karuna Amman!

    • 5

      somass ji

      “UNPers even boast that Ranil created the division between Prabhakaran and Karuna Amman!”

      Well well well, another Mahawansa yarn isn’t it?
      The split was already there between your Tamil Thesiath Talaivar and his Eastern commander, it was already there for all to see. Dr Ranil facilitated the timing and physical division, safe house, etc.

      That division helped VP the psychopath to win the war for Doctors Rajapaksas.
      If you have problem with contemporary history is to ask this forum.

      Where are you hiding. Be a man, come to this forum and fight your corner.

      Don’t waste your time carrying a petrol can looking for an opportune moment set fire to thriving businesses owned by hard working minorities.

      Are you preparing a list of potential targets?

  • 1

    “What is even more telling is the deathly silence of the leadership of the coalition.”

    Obviously, no one can hide the truth, just wasting the time. The Soldiers who committed the crimes are cowards and others who are hiding the facts are another set of cowards. If one braves courage, face the punishment for the crimes committed. Sarath Fonseka should have spoken the truth earlier. What we have is a spineless set of politicians whose very existence is to deceive the public and live a luxurious life.

  • 1

    George Orwell”s words of wisdom in Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka scenario in my view is highly debatable. Many things in the governance and in the battle field are shrouded with blatant lies and half truths. It is quite evident from what we heard from past leaders and what we now hear from the present leaders. If S. F. respected these high values and refrained from expressing his knowledge of these heinous crimes against humanity I think he may have suffered greater remorse of his conscience and that may well be the reason to throw over board these lofty ideas. We ourselves can observe how the Govt. itself is reacting to people’s aspirations
    vis a vis these inhuman and illegal activities of the past . A person in the calibre of S.F. would not betray his conscience and that quality is praiseworthy. I think we should not hesitate to speak up for the greater good of others come what may.

  • 8

    Sarath Fonseka (SF) is a hypocrite. No matter how many other MR regime and armed forces personnel he now decides the to accuse, he can never ever wash the blood on his hands by pointing fingers at others. But if at least some of the other criminals face prosecution due to his statements/evidence then I guess that is better than nothing. Now Colombo-Telegraph might decide to edit following part out (which I perfectly understand) but let me tell you a small “RUMOR” regarding the beloved SF. During the CBK govts war with the LTTE, SF had demanded that each unit (maybe 10 solders) must kill at least 10 -20 LTTE cadres everytime he comes for an inspection. If not that unit would face severe consequences. The solders were soo scared of SF, in-fact they were more scared of SF than the LTTE. What the solders do is they go to a Tamil village, round up 15 to 20 adult or adolescent males and executes them. So when SF comes for an inspection the solders can say “Menna sirr! Api marapu LTTE kaarayo”. In my humble opinion, SF is a war-criminal of the highest order! So please don’t look at him like some hero but like in a prosecution one criminal can decided to provide evidence against the others for leaner sentence.

  • 6

    There was a time when F-M Fonseka could have, should have, ridden off into the sunset, head held high, with his reputation, honours, and personal standing fully vindicated.

    With good advice and guidance he could have written an excellent account of ‘his war’.

    Now he is either a liar or a fool. With each day passing, he deepens his grave every time he opens his mouth.

    The foreboding future has all the signs of despair and anguish.

    Oh how the mighty fall.

  • 6

    Any way its on recorded history that—

    — Sarath Fonseka said that he will end the war and not leave it to another General.
    — MR and GR said that Sarath Fonseka is the best General in the world.

    Can any one deny that.

  • 1

    Elephant wiped out out the rathu sahodarayas during the period 88-89
    Bulath koley wiped out the koti sahodarayas during the period 2007-2009
    and now the saffron cheevaradariyas are trying to wipe out the marakkalayas

  • 0

    By Ajith comment..
    There was not a single massacre against Tamils of 1962 and 1972 by any govt. in power under time of SRD Banadarake’s governances . There may be some isolated an incidents was NOT that not accounts as the so-called “massacre against people of Tamils”.
    But 1958 case was different that under SWRD SLFP govt. there was first public ratios against Tamils; the reason was that tension in Jaffna —the North by Federal Party of SJV has advocated anti- -Sinhalese campaign through out island including North Eastern provinces . By the provoked of sentiments of Sinhalese people minor part an accountability must be an undertaken by SJV and Naganadan >
    In years of 1977, 79,81 and 1983 Tamils ratios was there,—— since 1977-
    The policies failure of UNP in politically that was miscalculated of anti- Tamils violence’s had been an open new wave to diverted political-economic crisis on different direction against Tamils by JRJ leadership.
    That was shorted-sight policies of UNP has produces of 1983 Black July.
    The UNP leadership had laid that solid foundation for New War footing politics has been replace GUN RULE politics instead of ballots in an Island?

    It was well to Known Dr Ranil Wickramasinghe growing UNP leader was very responsible member of that success of UNP govt. , indeed his uncle was the head of Regime?
    The regime of UNP policy failure had an open new path for LTTE Tamil terrorist in North and the created New Path of terrorism in South JVP’s?
    That is how our civilization undermined by UNP leadership .
    It was not that sincerely an accountability or responsibility by the majority 90% Sinhalese -Buddhist People of an Island.
    The UNP’s an Open Economy has created many disparities and gap of inequalities has being widen between Mass of People and Rules in political power.
    The UNP -JRJ has no way to address public an issues, so what they did target against directions of Tamils in Island. Result of that it was an open path of WAR by given advantages for Tamil Terrorist of LTTE?

    • 2

      Srisena Tatawara,
      Your comments clearly shows that you are an anti-UNP (pro-SLFP) Sinhala. It is also clear you don’t know much about what happened in the past, and just blindly follow what was said by some SLFP hardliners. Have you heard about Sinhala only act and have you heard about Banda-Chelva pact? This pact is about North East devolution of power recognizing the Tamil homeland (some sort of federal). You yourself accept 1958, 1977 and 1983 attack on Tamils and my question was whether this sort of civilisation you mentoned in your comment. If not can you tell what do you meant by that civilisation? UNP & SLFP both are political parties representing mainly by Buddhist Sinhalese. Both originated from one political party. You can put the blame on UNP and Silva can put the blame on SLFP but both represents Buddhist Sinhala. So, it is Buddhist Sinhala civilisation.

  • 1

    History often start with part truths which eventually end up as truths.
    The civil war lasted thirty years and was won by the combined effort of SL plus an amalgam of countries. However history will record this as a SL win!
    The detail as to the person to be credited with the win is getting hazier and hazier by the day. Doing the rounds are versions of “The Death of Cock Robin”

    Who killed Cock Robin?
    “I,” said the Sparrow,
    “With my bow and arrow,
    I killed Cock Robin.”

    Who saw him die?
    “I,” said the Fly,
    “With my little eye,
    I saw him die.”

    and so on.
    In the SF saga truth can be established but not many want to.
    By the way, Vishwamitra, the truth as to why the war started is now lost

  • 0

    By comment of Arijith …….
    Regardless I am anti- UNP or pro-SLFP is immaterial of the truth history are concern? History read by facts of truth not by nationalism of Tamil or Sinhalese or Muslims basis.
    The political Roots of Nationalism each and every nation has enrich Social-culture-religion evolution by their very inceptions of human history .
    Well, Sinhalese -Buddhist civilization that that guided by Buddhist theory of casualties teaching by Lord Budda 2600 ago of that in principally by Theravada school of Buddhist thought.
    The in-depth study of Civilization has proven which that beyond doubt is dialogues of various schools of Philosophical of World Outlooks.
    I not permitted talk of such vast issues the knowledgeable man like Mr Arijith?

    There are different interpretation of History by other thinkers of Marx and Engels-they were called Marxist. I am poor reader of Marxism. I do not having substantial material or knowledge about their historical theories with me?

    Is there any success story of that Ongoing Globalism ? Or reformation of Globalization led by ramification of USA headed “democracy” of Imperialist Capitalism ?
    USA is high power of the Nation -State? It is worth of notoriously nation state is by USA current Trump-ism in center of White House by New protectionism advocated by President Donald Trump of US .
    But It (USA) has played modern democracy of new civilization is acceptable fact of current history? Yes.
    You agreed or not that class of bourgeoisies USA has play in central progressive role of Modern civilization?
    But it was different from Tamil National chauvinist advocated by TNA and Diasporas in world-wide! of the slogan of myth of “Tamil Homeland” in Sri lanka?

    • 1

      Srisena Yatawara,
      You are confused. You don’t know what you write and why you write. You don’t need to study Marx and Engels. Lord Buddha did not born in this island. Learn his teachings.Your ancestors did not born in this island. look yourself. Look your neighbours. Just be human being. Love others. Respect others right. Try to help those who are suffering. Get rid of your violent thoughts.

  • 2

    It is about time that SF came out with the truth that there was no fighting between the Forces and the LTTE during Jan 2008 and May 2009, hence no casualties of combat for the period on both sides. The LTTE retreated burying their heavy artillery and decamping their stronghold Kilinochchi to the beach front for a compromise promised by MR to set VP free. It is only then that the LTTE was decimated when they came to surrender under Shavendra Silva’s command on Gota’s orders, while SF was out of the country. That is why SF blurted out the truth when he realised the Rajapaksas were out for his blood but had to deny when the Americans used pressure on SF. For this carnage the Americans, the Indians and their allies all supported the Rajapaksas to commit the crime and thereafter started to wave it in the faces of the Rajapaksas. The fact that the man responsible for the massacre of the LTTE, numbering around a forty five thousand was shielded at the UN Office by the Americans themselves. That is Shavendra Silva. This is the war in short what the public believe as won by the supposed War Heroes. To prove my point if a list of the supposed dead of the Forces is obtained for the period Jan 2008 to May 2009 will reveal the truth.

  • 0

    SF may or may not have been the sole strategist responsible for ending the war, & as the Commander, he is credited for the leadership, however, if war crimes were committed during his watch, in the same vein, has to take responsibility as well. The buck stops with him.

    The armed forces of a democratic country has to be disciplined. That is the difference between a legitimate fighting force & terrorists. As a soldier, he has to respect the universal rules of warfare (& I believe SL is signatory to the Geneva Convention), which is why Rommel, for his conduct in battle field during the 2nd World War, was considered as a true soldier by the allied forces . SF, typical of third world Generals, probably drunk on euphoria after winning the war, may have had thoughts of a military coup, failing which, entered the cess pit of politics in SL, instead of retiring gracefully with a very comfortable life style. Still, thanks to the UNP who obviously recognized his political value, has not only made him the highest ranking Officer in the armed service but a Minister as well. So, it’s time SF did some work instead of the rhetoric, after all, he is considered a man of action.

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