Tuesday, February 09, 2010

'General Fonseka’s arrest politically motivated' - Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka

Opposition presidential candidate and former Sri Lankan Army Commander, General Sarath Fonseka, was arrested on Monday (08/02/10) after hundreds of military men who broke into his office in Colombo. According to eyewitnesses, he was carried into a military vehicle parked outside his office and then beaten up.

General Fonseka, who was the main contender to President Mahinda Rajapaksa in the January 26th presidential elections, was subjected to what appears to have been abduction not arrest. Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka believes that the detention of the senior army general by the current regime was clearly politically motivated, rather than dictated by the law of the land. Our conclusion is supported by several important pieces of evidence:

1. War Crimes: General Fonseka told a news conference hours before his abduction that he was willing to testify in an international war crimes court regarding the last phase of Sri Lanka’s war. In this connection, the government later announced on state television, that General Foneska had been arrested in connection with divulging military secrets and accused him of being ‘hell-bent on betraying the gallant armed forces of Sri Lanka.' Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka believes the detention of General Fonseka is a move intended to conceal crimes committed by the state against Tamils in the North of Sri Lanka

2. Legal Challenge to Election Results: The abduction followed General Fonseka’s announcement that he plans to mount a legal challenge to the outcome of the recent presidential election and that he also plans to stand in upcoming parliamentary elections. We note that during the presidential election the government conducted vicious attacks on its political opponents and any dissenting media that backed General Fonseka. A political columnist, Prageeth Ekneligoda, who supported General Fonseka, dissapeared on the eve of the election and an editor, who published a journal campaigning for the former military chief, Chandana Sirimalwatte, was detained using anti-terrorist laws.

3. Use of Military to Arrest a Civilian: The deployment of military personnel to seize General Fonseka by force raises serious questions. The retired General is currently a civilian and a politician and as such any arrest should be conducted by the Sri Lankan police force. General Fonseka’s civilian status has been repeatedly invoked by the government in defence of its decision to remove his personal security guard.

JDS Demands:

While condemning the manner of General Fonseka’s arrest, we call upon the Sri Lankan government to conduct any inquiries into his alleged actions:

- in a transparent manner and in an open court,
- ensuring the accused’s fundamental right to defend himself
- safeguarding the public's right to know the truth.


Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka believes the detention of General Sarath Fonseka is part of a wider crackdown against political opponents and dissenting voices currently underway in Sri Lanka. It is, in our view, an indication of how this government plans to deal with its opponents and critics, regardless of their status.

Executive Committee
Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka

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Tuesday, February 09, 2010

"My husband was treated like 'an animal' says General Fonseka's wife

The wife of Sri Lankan ex-army chief Sarath Fonseka accused the government on Tuesday of abducting her husband and treating him "like an animal" following his dramatic arrest.

"This is not an arrest. It is an abduction," a tearful Anoma Fonseka said at a press conference at her Colombo home.

Fonseka, who lost his challenge for the presidency in a January 26 election, was arrested Monday night by military police who stormed the offices of the opposition alliance which had backed his candidacy.

Anoma Fonseka complained that her 59-year-old husband had been "dragged out and treated like an animal" by the soldiers.

"I don't know where he's being held. I don't know his condition. He needs regular medication.

"We always knew that the government will try to arrest my husband, but we never thought they would do it in such a disgusting manner," she said through sobs.

"Is this the gratitude for a general who ended terrorism?"

Fonseka was hailed as a national hero after he led security forces in crushing separatist Tamil Tiger fighters in May last year, ending the rebels' 37-year-old campaign for an independent Tamil homeland.

She said the authorities had yet to formally inform her of her husband's arrest, and voiced concern over whether he was receiving medication he needs after surviving a suicide bomb attack in April 2006.

"Please help me. I need to know where he is so that I can at least give him his medicine. He has already missed last night's dose. What I want to tell the government is: 'Just be reasonable. Treat him like a human being.'"

She accused the government of carrying out a vendetta against her husband for daring to challenge his former commander in chief, President Mahinda Rajapakse, in the January poll.

"They are accusing him of trying to stage a coup on the day of the election," she said. "Our two children and I were with him on that day. There was no coup. This is nonsense."

Fonseka has accused the government of rigging the election and has vowed to challenge the result in the Supreme Court. He has just one more week to file the relevant legal papers.

Opposition politician Rauf Hakeen, who was with Fonseka when he was taken into custody, said the military action was "undignified" and he felt ashamed.

"The way the troops spoke to General Fonseka and the way they forcibly dragged him away is a disgrace to the security forces," Hakeem told AFP. "It is a shameful way to treat your former commander."


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Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Sri Lanka's defeated presidential candidate Sarath Fonseka beaten during arrest

By Dean Nelson, South Asia Editor - General Sarath Fonseka, the former Sri Lankan military chief and defeated presidential candidate, has been punched and dragged along the ground by army troops who arrested him as he met political allies last night.

His wife was later forced to give a statement to police investigators, who raided her home at midnight, and was questioned until 2am this morning.

The general is believed to have been arrested in relation to an alleged coup plot against Presidential Mahinda Rajapaksa, but a military statement issued last night said he had been taken into "military custody" in connection with "certain fraudulent acts and other military offences committed by him."

A military spokesman said "military investigations" were continuing and that a detailed statement will be issued later. He is expected to face a court martial trial.

Opposition leaders have denounced General Fonseka's arrest as a "brutal, armed kidnapping" in which he and other opposition leaders were physically assaulted by an army major-general.

"There was no decorum. To call it an arrest gives dignity and legality to what was a brutal abduction. He was beaten, dragged along the floor and bundled into a van," said his presidential campaign spokesman, Mangala Samaraweera.

He had been meeting Sri Lankan Muslim Congress leader Rauf Hakim and Mano Ganesan, the leader of the Democratic People's Front, at their Colombo campaign headquarters, when Major-General Sumith Manawadu stormed in with a group of military policemen and ordered them to arrest the general and his aide Senaka da Silva.

He had been planning their forthcoming general election campaign for the parliament, which is expected to be dissolved later today, when troops surrounded his headquarters at around 9 pm last night.

"They stormed into the conference room while the meeting was going on and assaulted Mano Ganesan, he [Major-General Manawadu] punched him and then a dozen army people walked in. General Fonseka said 'this must be done by the police', at which point Manawadu punched Fonseka. The other armed fellows pinned him to the ground and dragged him by the legs. They carried him down the stairs and bundled him into a van along with his secretary. He was also assaulted," said Mr Samaraweera.

"He is retired, the military police can't arrest him, it must be under civil law. Until 2am General Fonseka's wife had no idea of his whereabouts, and we still don't know anything. You can't be assaulted and bundled into a car without a warrant," he added.

Britain and the United States have expressed concerns over the general's treatment since his hotel was surrounded by army troops after his election defeat last month. He has blamed wide scale ballot fraud for his defeat.

General Fonseka and President Rajapaksa had fallen out over who deserved the credit for defeating the Tamil Tigers in the country's 26 year civil war.

Since his defeat, more than 20 of his campaign staff have been arrested, including several former military officers, and computer equipment has been seized by civilian police.

© Daily Telegraph

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Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Fonseka arrested under military act

General Sarath Fonseka was arrested under the Military Act 57 (1) where even a retired military officer can be taken into custody if he had divulged military secrets or acted against the government while serving in the army, Government defence spokesman Minister Keheliya Rambukwella said.

He also said that the former army commander was arrested only yesterday as investigations into his conduct while in the army was launched only after he retired from military service.

© Daily Mirror

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Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Fonseka to 'testify on war crimes'

Sri Lanka's former military commander said that he is prepared to give evidence in an international court on war crime charges against Sri Lanka.

General Sarath Fonseka speaking to journalists in Colombo on Monday said, "I am not going to save anyone who has committed war crimes".

International human rights organisations as well as the US state department has alleged that the Sri Lankan government committed war crimes during the final phase of the war against Tamil Tigers.

Several human rights organisations have called to try the Sri Lankan state in international courts on alleged abuses against civilians and surrendees.

During the presidential election where Gen. Fonseka challenged president Mahinda Rajapaksa, both claimed credit for defeating the LTTE.

"I am definitely going to reveal what I know, what I was told and what I heard. Any one who has committed war crimes should definitely be brought into courts," Gen. Fonseka said.

"Those who reveal the truth are not traitors" he added.

© BBC Sinhala

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Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Pro Fonseka officers file FR petition

By S.S. Selvanayagam - Eight former armed services personnel who were actively engaged in ensuring the safety and security of common opposition candidate General Sarath Fonseka yesterday filed fundamental rights petitions challenging their arrest and detention which they claimed was arbitrary.

In their petitions to the Supreme Court they claimed they were subjected to unlawful arrest and detention, for the only reason that they held a political opinion which was different to that of the incumbent administration.

Former non-commissioned Military Police officer Egodage Lalith Ananda, retired Air Force corporal J.D. De Silva, Army officer Indunil Susantha Kudaligama, discharged Army private Senarath Dissanayake ex servicemen K.D.P. Anura Kalyana, M.K.S.N.K. Mallikarachchi, Vijitha Enston Kadippili and K. Ranjith Shan Thevapriya cited Police Chief Mahinda Balasooriya, CID DIG Nandana Munasinghe, and the Attorney General as respondents.

The petitioners alleged that their fundamental rights to equality and equal protection of the law, freedom from discrimination on grounds of political opinion, freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention, freedom of speech and expression as well as freedom of association have been infringed upon by the respondents.

They are asking Court to suspend their purported arrest/detention and release them unconditionally on such conditions the Court deemed appropriate.

The application filed Lalith Ananda states that since January 29 he was being held against his will at the Terrorist Investigation Division (TID).

The petitioners said that Since General Fonseka's announcement he would contest the recently concluded presidential elections as the common opposition candidate and upon being reliably informed that his security had been curtailed and was insufficient to meet the perceived threat on his life, they had actively engaged themselves in ensuring his safety and security.

Mr. Ananda he had thus volunteered to render this service, as he sincerely believed he owed this to General Fonseka during his time of need and as the petitioner was genuinely attracted to the political vision and thought as promulgated by General Fonseka for the future development of this country.

Mr. Ananda said he was incarcerated together with more than 30 other officers, soldiers and other rankers who have all been confined in a very small space, with hardly any personal privacy at all, causing grave mental and physical strain and stress to their health and well being.

He said that after the results of the elections on January 29, whilst the Petitioner and several others were engaged in providing the above services at the election propaganda office of General Fonseka at Rajakeeya Mawatha, Colombo 7, officers attached to or acting under the authority and direction of DIG Nandana Munasinghe arrested them, continue to hold them in detention which was unlawful.

The petitioners alleged that no reason whatsoever had been given to them for their arrest and detention whether at the time of being arrested or thereafter; and they maintained that in fact, no reasons exists for the same.

Attorney-at-Law Lilanthi de Silva filed these applications for and on behalf of the petitioners.

© Daily Mirror

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