By Muhammed Fazl –
“A hero is not coz someone puts on a uniform and picked up a weapon… but because he put it down and stood up for the truth” – Dahlia Wasfi, M.D.
Having gone through a period of self-induced hibernation for almost a year, let me first thank you for being that person who made me pick up my ‘pen’ again. Though I have chosen not to read your book due to your stoic silence in the last 7 years and assuming it was your solo effort, let me also congratulate you on your first attempt in the literary world. But before I delve deeper, let me start with the following questions:
1. Why did you even bother writing a book if you are not willing to tell the truth and nothing but the truth?
2. Based on your claim that you will never betray the SL Army under any circumstances, does it mean even if they had committed war crimes?
3. Based on your claim that you will take war secrets to your grave, being a military officer, can you please give a definition to the two words – ‘war secrets’? And do ‘rules of engagement’ have anything to do with this ‘war secrets’ that you talk of?
4. What were the real reason behind narrating a story about FM Sarath Fonseka berating you over your ‘failure to capture’ LTTE Supremo Prabhakaran a day earlier? Was it to spice up the contents and to sell more books?
5. On an interview a couple of days ago, you talked about doing a service for ‘Ratata & Jaathiyata’ while wearing Army uniforms for 35 years. Does it mean in addition to fighting for the country, were you fighting for the Sinhalese race as well? And if so, did it ever impair your judgement when on killing sprees against people belonging to a different race?
6. If the well documented killing of tens of thousands innocent Tamil civilians (Sri Lankans) has not been acknowledged by you, do you really think you have the right to talk about patriotism (love for the country and its people)? Or were you just being patriotic to the Sinhalese race only?
7. Were you in a coma or in a deep slumber when unnamed forces (allegedly linked to SL Army) abducted and killed many civilians extra-judicially under the Rajapaksa government and even before?
8. Did you not think of your poorly-thought-of decision to invite Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa to grace your book launching occasion being considered as an insult to millions of law abiding citizens who made their case against multi-million theft of public funds and murderous leaders on January 08, 2015? Or is it that you consider Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa to be the most patriotic leader Sri Lanka ever produced?
9. Having watched a recent interview of yours where you distanced yourself from politics while castigating negative remarks about army officials getting into politics on retirement, were the remarks intended at Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka as an indication of your deep-rooted resentment towards him?
10. Were you ever in a difficult financial situation which could have been the reason for you to cash in on selling out the war? Not expecting your replies, I think it is about time you acknowledge the fact that our countrymen are really tired of people of your kind and rank, listening to your ‘heroic’ fables, your killing machines and your self-glorifications over death and destruction of gigantic proportions. Seeing one retiring military top brass after another gloating over their tenure and their ‘victory records’, I seriously wish they seek psychiatric help in overcoming their hidden fears instead. For starters, you people claim to have eradicated the threat of terrorism once and for all and brought in an era of absolute peace…. Yet, seven years after the war has ended, half a dozen armored vehicles needs to be escorting you when you travel about and even after retirement. You claim to be brave and not fearful of death.… Yet, half a dozen soldiers hang around you round the clock protecting you. I mean, how long do you think you would fool the masses for in order to protect your ‘persona’?
Questions Surrounding The Death Of LTTE Leader Velupillai Prabhakaran
While you (or your Regiment) claimed to have killed LTTE Supremo Prabhakaran (or captured alive), what were you thinking when you decided to burn the body? Living in a generation where people at present times revere figures such Lenin, Karl Marx, Lincoln etc. long after their demise, did you honestly think you could change the minds of Prabhakaran’s faithful once the body is rid of? Or was it to hide torture marks on his body (covered with mud) from possible prying eyes of honest doctors in the event of an autopsy taking place? The coward that he was, if Prabhakaran was running away from you guys, how was it possible for him to have a bullet opening on his forehead? Whoever shot him, me think either he should have been a sharp shooter, or he would have shot Prabhakaran with a single shot to the head at point blank range. Unfortunately, I am no forensic expert, but you being present at the scene of the crime, I trust you would be better equipped to shed more light on this incident.
We both are soldiers on different fronts. While I consider myself to be a soldier of conscience and fighting for the rights of humanity, your world seems to be revolving around your uniform, your comrades-in-arms and the misguided war that you believe was just. To refresh your memory, it was a war instigated by racist Sinhalese political leaders and sustained blindly by people like you. There is no heroism in beating a rag tag army of under 10,000 by over a 300,000-strong well equipped army (tri-forces combined) as well as when you lacked military discipline to avoid innocent lives (over 40,000 as alleged). Not to mention the 27 odd years it took to end it. There is no patriotism when you kill your own countrymen over racist agenda of corrupt politicians…. and sure as hell, there need not be pride in taking the life of another over different political ideologies. So, please save your celebrations for your grandchildren’s birthdays or whatever. And then when you appear on national television giving interviews about not wanting to be part of the political process ever, I am naturally reminded about how our politicos promise or say one thing initially and act on the contrary eventually. So my final question to you Sir is, how hard would it be for a military man drenched in blood and known for distorting the truth all his life, to lie again? And from what I hear, you were forced to retire by the present leadership. But then, it would be only fair that I let you respond to that.
Hoping it will all end well, my advice to you Sir – Now that you have decided to take a break, do enjoy your retirement years and please stay away from the limelight to avoid rubbing salt on healing wounds of thousands of people who are grieving to date. There are many unanswered questions we need to seek answers for if we are genuinely interested in winning the peace. Hence, like you said, please take your stories to the grave…. SILENTLY & ALL OF IT! Human life is precious, and now that you have won the war, this just might be your time to help win the peace. And being scorned for not getting the SL Army Commander post is one thing, but aligning yourself with the Rajapaksas and taking out your frustrations on the Yaha Palanaya (Good Governance) government is another. Hence, moving forward, the need for you to think and act wiser.
Innocent blood has been spilled on all sides and wounds need to be healed. While the call for absolving the guilt of war criminals gets louder, in addition to recompensation for victims, addressing causes and rewriting discriminatory laws at the same time, just may herald a new beginning for some and closure for the rest. And for the sake of wanting our future generation to study that which is true in their history lessons, let us just hope that day when truth finally triumphs is not too far off.
The writer is an independent social/political activist and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and through FB (Fazl Muhammed Nizar)