Monday, December 21, 2009

No heroes, only suspects of war crimes!

Vickramabahu Karanarathna - ‘The Island’, reported on December 15: “Fonseka said, he had told a weekend newspaper that a journalist had told him that Gotabaya Rajapaksa had ordered Maj. Gen Shavindra Silva (then Brigadier) to kill the LTTE leaders who offered to surrender but, what he said had been misreported. Certain opposition politicians were trying to gain political mileage by making use of that erroneous report, he said. “I don’t believe that the journalist who wrote the story had any intention of slinging mud at me,” he said.”

Wriggle out

Thus he was trying to wriggle out of the problem he himself had created by exploding a political bombshell about war crimes. Fortunately, for the public, the government took his exposé seriously and claimed that he has betrayed the country by divulging military secrets. Wimal Weerawansa the leader of Jathika Nidahas Peramuna (JNP) told a news conference on the same day that this matter had already been discussed with President Mahinda Rajapaksa and it had been decided to seek the attorney general’s views with the objective of taking legal action against Gen. Fonseka . Weerawansa said further, that the statement which the former Army Commander had said had breached the ethics of his profession. He explained that even a professional who works for a biscuit factory is not supposed to reveal its recipes if he joins a competitor’s company. “Gen. Fonseka had, therefore, seriously violated the ethics associated with the army,” he said.

It is clear that the government has indirectly confirmed that, what appeared in the ‘Sunday Leader’ is the truth and the general should be penalized for exposing this highly guarded truth. There were reports in various websites about the killing of the LTTE leadership around 17 of May 2009. The most wide spread story was that, with international agreement the LTTE leadership was requested to come forward to surrender which they accepted. They came in batches with white flags and all were taken into one room. Then instead of treating them as prisoners of war they were all clubbed to death. Even children, including young girls, were murdered. Though there were confirmations of this event it did not have any credibility as no confirmation came from the side of the Sinhala army. Now, not only the general who led the war but also the very government has indirectly confirmed the development, though not the details. Now both parties have got into a tangle from which neither can get out easily. The general has to explain why he kept his mouth shut all this time, and why he did not check the media story with Major general Shavindra Silva before going public. On the other hand, if the army was so professional and apolitical under his leadership how did Shavindra implement any order given by Gotabaya, without his knowledge. In the case of Lasantha’s murder General Sarath vouched, that the army men could not have been used for a political purpose as they were strictly professional. But in this case he suspects that Shavindra has been used for a political end by Gotabaya. General Fonseka cannot have it both ways; either the army was professional and could not be used for political murders or it was possible for some higher up to have used the army to kill Lasantha and attack other media men.


Whatever maybe the outcome of the investigation promised by the parties involved, the war has not indeed created heroes but only suspects of war crimes. Modern Dutugemunus have behaved like barbarians. In the case of the ancient war in 3rd century BC, narrated in the Mahawansa, the old Elara had invited the young Gemunu for a duel in order to avoid the mass killing. For the old man it was a sacrifice and after his death Gemunu gave the utmost respect and even today the Sinhala people pay homage to the statue of Elara.

This Sinhala story stands in contrast to that of the ancient Greeks. In the latter, the Greek hero Achilles drags the dead body of vanquished Trojan leader Hector, which was tied to his chariot, disregarding the cries of Hectors family. But according to this new story Mahinda has surpassed the ancient myths by the brutality shown to the surrendered LTTE leaders. Whatever may be the result of the proposed investigation on this matter the damage done to our country and the people is irreparable. The political bankruptcy of both parties is shown in debates and abuses that are going on. To gain respect and dignity for all, both these camps should be rejected.

© Lakbima News

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