Two ‘devils’ are fighting in Sri Lanka

Once upon a time they had shared a ‘possible war criminalship’ on an ‘assignment’ for a massacre of  Tamils in the name of  ‘war on terrorists’. Now the long-shared criminalship is on risk, as the two factions of perpetrators have been breaking each others’ hearts. Rajapaksa brothers and its allies are on one hand, Gen. Sarath Fonseka the former army chief is on the other, the two devils have been fighting for taking a presidency. Thus, the Sri Lankan conflict to be continued…

– Penseur21 –

Sri Lanka accuses General Sarath Fonseka of ‘betrayal’

By Charles Haviland
BBC News, Colombo, Sri Lanka

The Sri Lankan government has accused former army chief General Sarath Fonseka of betraying the nation after he made new accusations against it.

He alleged that the defence secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, had ordered the killing of Tamil Tiger rebel leaders as they were trying to surrender last May.

The Sri Lankan government said they were in fact shot by other rebel fighters.

It says it is considering taking legal action against the general.

Gen Fonseka is standing against the incumbent Mahinda Rajapaksa in next month’s presidential election.

The Human Rights Minister, Mahinda Samarasinghe, described Gen Fonseka’s allegation as a “betrayal based on the untruth” and the biggest such betrayal in Sri Lanka’s history.

‘Malicious’

The minister said legal action was being considered against the general for the “malicious” remarks, carried in a Sunday newspaper interview and repeated at a news conference.

Gen Fonseka, the then army chief, was actually away from Sri Lanka in the war’s final days.

But he said he learned from government media reporters that the defence secretary, who is also the president’s brother, had directly ordered army commanders to shoot two Tamil Tiger leaders, having earlier told them to walk towards the army carrying white flags.

Directly after the bloody end to the war in May, diplomats were alleging that the army summarily killed a group of surrendering people led by senior Tiger rebels.

The Sri Lankan government said they were in fact shot by other rebel fighters.

Now the war crimes allegations have resurfaced in this unexpected way.

Gen Fonseka entered the presidential race, apparently unhappy at not getting due credit for the war victory.

Now he is saying that even during the war, military decisions were being made without his knowledge.

The row between him and his erstwhile friends in the government is deepening, and getting more bitter.

The nationalistic wave of triumphant post-war euphoria has given way to accusations and counter-charges of treachery.

source : http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/8410611.stm 

=======================

Sri Lanka kill order denied

NEW DELHI

December 15, 2009

The Sri Lankan Government has angrily denied an allegation by former army chief General Sarath Fonseka that the Defence Secretary ordered the killing of Tamil Tiger rebel leaders as they were trying to surrender.

The Minister for Human Rights, Mahinda Samarasinghe, said General Fonseka’s claims about Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, a brother of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, had damaged the image of the country.

General Fonseka told a Sri Lankan newspaper that Gotabhaya Rajapaksa told a battlefield commander Tamil Tigers leaders should be shot rather than taken prisoner.

The Government says it is now considering legal action against Mr Fonseka.

source : http://www.theage.com.au/world/sri-lanka-kill-order-denied-20091214-ks82.html 

========================

Sri Lanka candidate denies Tiger rebels shot

Mon Dec 14, 2009 12:47pm GMT
 

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By Shihar Aneez and Ranga Sirilal

COLOMBO (Reuters) – General Sarath Fonseka, who is challenging President Mahinda Rajapaksa in a January election, denied on Monday having said government soldiers shot surrendering Tamil Tiger rebels, adding no such incidents happened.

The Sri Lankan government had earlier denounced reported comments by the general, carried in an opposition newspaper, that senior rebels who were to surrender with white flags on May 17 were ordered to be killed by the government.

Fonseka at a special media briefing on Monday said the pro-opposition Sunday Leader had reported remarks of his out of context. He said senior rebels had not sought surrender with white flags nor had the military fired at surrendering cadres.

“They (army soldiers) never committed any criminal act. There was no any attempt of surrender on May 17,18 and 19,” Fonseka told reporters, referring to the last three days of the war with the Tiger rebels.

The government had said it was seeking legal advice over the allegations in the article in the pro-opposition paper.

“The government totally denies this allegation,” Human Rights Minister Mahinda Samarasinge told reporters.

Fonseka’s successor, Lieutenant-General Jagath Jayasuriya, said: “We reject (these) malicious allegations against our heroic soldiers.”

Fonseka said on Monday he would take full responsibility if any rights violations or breach of international law had occurred when he commanded the army in the final stages of the quarter century war. 

The government declared victory in the war after killing rebel chief Velupillai Prabhakaran in late May.

Fonseka and Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the president’s brother, led the government campaign that brought an end to the insurgency, which aimed to create a separate homeland for the island’s Tamil minority.

Both sides were accused of human rights violations and atrocities during the long conflict.

Rights groups and Western governments are pressing for some kind of accountability for thousands of civilian deaths in the final phase of the war.

The government has denied charges of deliberately targeting civilians, and said Tiger fighters forcibly kept thousands of unwilling civilians with them in their last redoubts.

(Writing by Shihar Aneez; Editing by Jerry Norton)

source : http://af.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idAFTRE5BD1I720091214

=====================

Row over Sri Lanka ‘kill orders’

The Sri Lankan government has accused the former head of the country’s military of “betrayal” after he alleged senior officials ordered the killing of surrendering Tamil Tiger leaders during the last days of the country’s civil war.

General Sarath Fonseka said in comments published in a national newspaper on Sunday that Sri Lanka’s defence minister, Gotabhaya Rajapakse, had told military commanders that no prisoners should be taken during the final offensive in May.

Speaking to the Sunday Leader, Fonseka was quoted as saying Rajapakse had ordered “they must all be killed”, referring to leaders of the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Fonseka led the army’s final offensive against the LTTE, but later fell out with the president and the defence secretary.

Responding to the claims, Sri Lanka’s human rights minister, Mahinda Samarasinghe, accused Fonseka of lying.

In a statement posted on a government website, he said Fonseka’s allegations were “the greatest ever betrayal based on an untruth, ever made in the history of this country”.Fonseka later appeared to try to distance himself from the Sunday Leader report, saying he had been misquoted.

Al Jazeera’s Minelle Fernandez, reporting from Colombo, said Fonseka told reporters he had been told of the order by a journalist who had been embedded with the military at the time.

Fonseka has not identified the journalist involved.

The only four-star general to have served in the Sri Lankan military, Fonseka said he was away in China when the alleged orders were given.

He said he had not been aware that the defence minister was giving direct orders to officers in the field in the final stages of battle.

Fonseka said it was not until after the war had ended that he learnt that senior Tiger rebels had used foreign mediators to organise a plan in which they would carry white flags and give themselves up.

Elections

Fonseka is contesting upcoming presidential elections against the defence minister’s brother, President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

A spokesman for the Sri Lankan military gave no comment on Fonseka’s allegations.”This is a comment given by General Fonseka and he will come out with many more,” Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara told the AFP news agency.

“We will not comment on what he says.”

The Sri Lankan government claimed victory over the LTTE on May 18 after the army wiped out the rebel leadership in a final fierce battle.

Velupillai Prabhakaran, the group’s founder, was killed in the fighting and his body shown on national television.

Sri Lankan authorities have resisted international calls for a investigation into allegations of war crimes committed during the conflict after the United Nations alleged that more than 7,000 civilians were killed during the first four months of this year alone.

Fonseka has said he will consider ordering an investigation if he is elected president

source : http://english.aljazeera.net/news/asia/2009/12/2009121431340755939.html

==========================

Sri Lankan government killed surrendering Tamil Tigers, says general

Sacked commander running for president says three rebel leaders were machine-gunned on minister’s orders

  • Simon Tisdall
  • guardian.co.uk, Monday 14 December 2009 19.02 GMT
  • Three Tamil Tiger rebel leaders who tried to surrender during the bloody climax of Sri Lanka‘s civil war in May were shot and killed on the orders of the country’s defence minister and a senior adviser to President Mahinda Rajapaksa, the army commander at the time has claimed.

    General Sarath Fonseka, who helped direct the final offensive against the Tigers but later broke with the government and is running for president in next month’s elections, said he had been personally unaware of the Tamils’ attempts to give themselves up, which included frantic last-minute appeals for help to a Norwegian minister, diplomats, journalists and UN and Red Cross officials.

    “Later I learned that Basil [Rajapaska, a senior presidential adviser] had conveyed this information to the defence secretary, Gothabaya Rajapaksa, who in turn spoke with Brigadier Shavendra Silva, commander of the army’s 58th division, giving orders not to accommodate any [Tiger] leaders attempting surrender and that they must all be killed,” Fonseka told the pro-opposition Sunday Leader newspaper in Colombo.

    Fonseka said Balasingham Nadesan, head of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam’s political wing, Seevaratnam Puleedevan, head of the group’s peace secretariat, and a Tiger leader known as Ramesh had been assured through intermediaries by Basil Rajapaksa and Gothabaya Rajapaksa, brothers of the president, that they would be given safe conduct.

    According to subsequent accounts, the men were advised: “Get a piece of white cloth, put up your hands and walk towards the other side in a non-threatening manner.”

    “It [the surrender method] was their idea,” Fonseka told the newspaper, referring to Basil and Gothabaya Rajapaksa.

    When the three men approached government lines some time after midnight on 17 May they walked into a trap, Fonseka suggested. Troops opened fire with machine guns, killing all three and a number of family members.

    A Tamil eyewitness account said Nadesan’s wife, a Sinhalese, called in Sinhali to the soldiers: “He is trying to surrender and you are shooting him.” She also died in the hail of bullets.

    Faced by government denials and threats of legal action today, Fonseka appeared to backtrack, claiming the newspaper reported his remarks out of context. “They (army soldiers) never committed any criminal act. There was no attempt at surrender on May 17, 18 and 19,” he said. He would take full responsibility for any human rights violations during the final stages of the war. Despite disavowing his earlier remarks, Fonseka’s claims about the circumstances surrounding the three men’s deaths resemble contemporaneous reports in regional and western media, including the Guardian, that were denied by the Sri Lankan government.

    Fonseka’s whereabouts during the incident was also a matter of confusion. He told a press conference in Colombo on Sunday that he was in China. It was unclear how this statement could be reconciled with his appearance on Sri Lankan state television on 18 May to proclaim victory over the Tigers and confirm that their leader, Velupillai Prabhakaran, had been killed. “We can announce very responsibly that we have liberated the whole country from terrorism,” Fonseka told Rupavahini television.

    Fonseka’s role in the war made him a hero for many Sinhalese, a factor that may have hastened his rupture with President Rajapaksa. He was removed as army commander two weeks after the war concluded. His claims about what happened last May, and subsequent backtracking, will be viewed in the context of his presidential campaign.

    Sri Lanka denies responsibility for the three men’s deaths. Officials have suggested the Tamil leaders were killed by their own side, after they decided to surrender.

    Responding to Fonseka, Mahinda Samarasinghe, the human rights minister, said: “The government totally denies this allegation … We reject this malicious allegation against our heroic soldiers.” Offering yet another version of events, he said the rebels were carrying white flags in an attempt to fool the army and were not trying to surrender.

    Basil Rajapaksa told the Sunday Leader he had not been contacted by a Norwegian intermediary over the surrender offer. Gothabaya Rajapaksa and Brigadier Silva have not commented in public on Fonseka’s claims.

    Sri Lanka’s conduct of the final phases of the war, in which up to 20,000 people may have died, its subsequent internment of an estimated 270,000 Tamil civilians, and violence against government critics, including last January’s assassination of the Sunday Leader’s former editor, Lasantha Wickrematunge, have provoked widespread condemnation by human rights groups, NGOs and some western governments. But calls by Amnesty International and others for an independent investigation by the UN or another independent body have so far been blocked.

    Fonseka’s allegations echo a report published in June by a Sri Lankan human rights group, University Teachers for Human Rights (Jaffna), that cited army sources in stating that a “politically ordered massacre of people who wanted to surrender or surrendered” had taken place. The group also reported widespread killings by rebels of Tamil civilians who were fleeing the war zone.

    The report said: “The army had for the most part conducted itself in a disciplined manner in trying to protect civilians. But once the command gives a signal for barbarity to be let loose, the men touch the most depraved depths of humanity.”

    Tamer of the Tigers

     

    Widely seen as the architect of Sri Lanka’s military success against the Tamil Tigers, General Sarath Fonseka is credited with eliminating the separatist group’s leadership and ending a war that began in 1983 and killed more than 70,000 people.

    Born in 1950, the general started his career in the Sri Lankan army in 1970. His training took him all over South Asia as well as to the US and the UK.

    He rose through the ranks and became known as a tough commander not afraid to join in with action against the Tigers. He was wounded in 1993 and almost killed by a suicide bomber in 2006.

    His role in Operation Riviresa in 1995 – when the army captured the town of Jaffna from the rebels – was one of the high points of his career.

    One of his biggest setbacks occurred in 2000 when the Tigers managed to gain control of the strategically important Elephant Pass, one of the few routes leading to the Jaffna peninsula. His troops recaptured it in January this year.

    Last July Fonseka was appointed as Sri Lanka’s first chief of defence staff. He resigned last month, feeling that he had not receive the recognition he deserved for the war victory.

    Fonseka is to run as the People’s Liberation Front presidential candidate in the general election, scheduled for 26 January. He has pledged to abolish the powerful executive presidency and return power to parliament in six months, and to take measures to curb corruption and restore democracy.

    Fifteen opposition parties – all with little hope of defeating the incumbent, Mahinda Rajapaksa, on their own – have previously said they would support Fonseka in the election.

    The general’s relationship with the government has become increasingly bitter in recent weeks.

    source : http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/dec/14/srilanka-tamil-leaders-surrender-shot

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