The Sunday Leader

Towards The World’s First Military Democracy

The line between politics and the military on this island is now dangerously blurred

Box-Pix-gsmmonitoring1b-1[1]By R. Wijewardene

In the dead of a damp, tropical night, a group of six army officers, including a colonel and 50 soldiers, all military police, descended on ‘General’s House’ occupied by Former Chief of Defence Staff Sarath Fonseka.

This phalanx of military personnel attempted to seize the former CDS’s vehicles, and remove a section of his security detail.

The General confronted these intruders — maintaining that he had every right to the security and the vehicles in question, and succeeded in persuading his unwelcome visitors to leave.

But while the feted war hero succeeded in repelling this ‘attack,’ the idea that the government would use the military police and the army itself to harass the General who delivered the Top Tiger’s head barely six months ago is genuinely shocking.

The Sunday Leader has learned that the instructions to raid General’s House and strip him of his security and vehicles was decided at a high level meeting of government heavyweights and military personnel.

Extraordinarily, the move to forcibly remove Fonseka’s security was taken just days after the General filed a Fundamental Rights petition in the Supreme Court, requesting additional security.

The speed at which the government has turned on their ex protege is stunning. Just months ago, President Mahinda Rajapaksa used to describe Fonseka in terms of the purest hyperbole. The supreme potentate even lavished on Fonseka the accolade of ‘best military commander in the world.’

But mere months later, the same President at his party convention snarled that a ‘Patriot today can be a Traitor tomorrow.’

For turning his back on the President and daring to contest a democratic election against him, Fonseka is now a traitor. A traitor who deserves to have the army sent to wake him in the middle of the night. The sheer ruthlessness of the decisions now being made at the highest levels of government is chilling.

Painfully aware of the chinks in their armor the former Chief of Defense Staff could exploit, the Rajapaksas have moved swiftly, decisively and of course, ruthlessly.
The Sunday Leader learns that state intelligence has been tapping both the land and mobile phones belonging to Sarath Fonseka, his family, staff and senior aides for months.

Even ministers, officers at the Defence Ministry, and senior Presidential aides who are known to have associated with Fonseka, are now said to have had their phones tapped. And in the latest bout of paranoia following Fonseka’s formal announcement of his candidacy, it is reported that editors and defence correspondents who have had any contact with the General are now being wire tapped.

State of affairs

Of course surveillance of opposition politicians and anti government editors is simply the de facto state of affairs in this state of serendipity. But the extent of the government’s current bout of surveillance is Orwellian and reminiscent of the most paranoid and sinister of authoritarian dictatorships.

And surveillance is not restricted to wire taps — several key opposition figures are now being constantly shadowed, kept in the sights of government operatives day and night.
Initially, phone tapping was handled by the rather shady State Intelligence Service (SIS) but the government’s need to eavesdrop is such that the Military Intelligence corps has also begun tapping phones, with assistance from the Army Signals Corps.

Headed by a Brigadier specialising in telecommunications, there are specialised groups within the intelligence corps for tapping, taping and reporting vital information to superiors.

Superiors inevitably from the Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI) and SIS who report to the Ministry of Defence what they have heard and await further orders. The details regarding phone tapping were leaked to The Sunday Leader by an officer involved in the tapping.

But despite the brazenness and openness of the surveillance now being conducted, under the law of this Lankan land the tapping of any land or mobile phone conversation is illegal.

Of course, it is well known that the law in Sri Lanka is somewhat optional. What is particularly outstanding in this case however, is that this abuse of individuals’ constitutional right to privacy are not being carried out for the security of the nation, but to secure the interests of the Rajapaksa regime.

Sarath Fonseka and his associates aren’t having their phones tapped because they pose a threat to the citizens of this nation, but because they pose a threat to the absolute power of this regime.

And for all the talk of patriotism, that ultimately is the thinking that drives this regime — the nation recedes into insignificance when the administration’s interests are threatened.

And phone tapping isn’t the only instance where the national interest and this nation’s law has been subordinated to the government self interest.

No more heroes?

Following the final end of the conflict, General Sarath Fonseka ordered the Engineers Regiment to build three monuments to war heroes at Elephant Pass, Kilinochchi and Mullaithivu. All battle grounds where a number of soldiers sacrificed their lives.
However while the construction of the monuments was completed months ago, the opening ceremonies for the memorials are yet to be held.

Reason for delay

The monuments in question are inscribed with, among others, the name of General Sarath Fonseka, and the Defence Ministry has issued orders to leave the memorials closed for the time being.
However, political interference in the affairs of the army is more than a matter of monuments.

Towards the world’s first Military Democracy?

It is reported that even promotions and appointments within the forces are now being vetted by the Ministry of Defence, depriving the military of its traditional independence. Promotions, it is alleged, are no longer a matter of aptitude but political loyalty.

Major General P. Pannipitiya for example has been allegedly charged with misappropriating government funds, violating tender procedure and behaving indecently in front of his subordinates. Pannipitiya is subject to an ongoing court marshal, chaired by General Harsha  Weerathunge and two members of the military police.

However, it is alleged that pressure is being exerted by the Defence Ministry to ensure that Pannipitiya is acquitted of any wrongdoing. A military policemen attached to the investigation said, “We  had sufficient evidence against the General but we are under pressure from superior officers not to submit evidence in the Court Marshal.”

The ultimate aim behind the interference, it seems, is to have an acquitted Pannipitiya installed as Chief of Staff. It is alleged that the present Chief of Staff, Major General Mendake Samarasinghe will be offered a diplomatic position to make way for Pannipitiya.

Again the possibility of such massive political interference in the affairs of the military is shocking and threatens to reduce the army to the level of other despicably politicised state industries and institutions.

But of course in Sri Lanka, the line between the military and politics is now blurred in every direction. Politicians now dominate the army, and soldiers enter politics, in a frightening reversal that ultimately bodes ill for Sri Lanka’s deeply damaged democracy.

New toys
GSM Monitoring System

Cellular monitoring using the GSM Intercept model GSM 3060TP is said to be the tool of  choice for the interception of mobile phone calls. The system monitors and tracks all GSM cellular telephone signals in a local area.
And therefore no physical connection or bugging device attached to the phone is necessary. Surveillance from this device is almost impossible to detect.

33 Comments for “Towards The World’s First Military Democracy”

  1. kana sivanantha

    Nothing in Srilanka is shocking as you claim. This kind of behaviour has been taking place in Lanka for years and you (media) have been contributing to it by your silent approval of such acts when they were committed against the Tamils (not withstanding the occasional articles in Sunday Leadre). It is just the chicken has come home to roost!!!

  2. Satina Junaid

    Despite all the expose’s of your newspaper during the past several years/regimes, the urban/village public still have not realized what dictatorial and family bandisim means. Anything or anyperson whether it be SF or Idi Amin type has to breakthrough this undemocratic/familiy oriented and corrupt rule of the present regime.

  3. s.thiyagaraja

    real war has just started,singalese against singalese,can’t wait to see.
    the sooner the better.

    • Kalag

      Don’t count on it mate. You won’t be around to see it. Tamils will be liquidated first before that happens.

    • Paranoid State

      To both the idiots Thiyagaraja and Kalag!
      No one is liquidating the tamils or it is a war between the sinhalese.

      The LTTE terrorist were destroyed for what they were. Ranil is no more a traitor than anyone of you’ll nor anyone is a patriot because you type in a blog or scream in front of Kelani Viharaya.
      We have seen better deshapremi’s – the best example is Wimal Weerawanse.

      Everyone is a patriot sometime or the other. If the sinhala /tamil chauvinists like you take George bush’s pathway (either you are with us or with the enemy) things become very difficult to comprehend. Anyway you’ll guys will never learn
      Kalag always will want a repeat of 1983 and Thiyagaraja will like the bombings in colombo. YOu both are going to lose because neither of them will happen! Losers

      • concened citizen

        Well said comment. We paid the price for the action of our past unethilcal leaders. The main issues are how to mend the damage done, make corruption (and politics) free goverment institutions and increse the living standard of the people similar to other developed countries. This can be achieved only by a honest and skill leader. MR for instance abused the state resources purely to have popularity and encouraged his cronies to spend state resources in exchange to consolidation of his support , SF yet to submit his detail proposal,

  4. kana

    Now they are reaping what they have sown. The souls of innocent never been satisfied by visiting the famous shrines in India. The curse never fade away without any destruction. Sri Lanka almost had been sold to foreign powers.What is next ? A military government or a military coup?
    When jews in danger, I did not help because I am not a Jew,
    When Muslims in danger, I did not help because I am not a Muslim
    When Christians in danger, I did not help because I am not a Christian
    When Tamils in danger, I did not help because I am not a Tamil
    Now I am( Sarath} in danger , Nobody helped me because I did not help anybody

    • Fairose

      Kana will help Mahinda because he helped everybody who licked his foot. The sychopants are like vultures that will not hunt but scavenge on the remnants. A moderate citizen of this country could never be against a candidate who promise restoration democracy that is being denied by this Despotic ruler who is riding high on the support of gullible voters of the majority community. The government propaganda machinery is doing everything to fool the fools but a larger a segment of majority community has realized that this government has failed in the main obligation of a government. This government has no road map to bring prosperity. They wait until mother nature brings the rain. We sri lankans have to wake up and throw this government out but it will not be a easy task because all the chandiya’s in there side; that says all the vote riggings will be in their favour.

    • Peacelover




      • Paranoid State

        I wonder how you are planning to use the Newton’s first law?

        • Paranoid State

          Sorry the third!

        • Peacelover

          be patient! you will see soon.

          Now that no LTTE to blame for every criminal activities by politicians, poor working class will bear the burden in the forms of tax increase, criminal activities, social unrest, job loss, cost of living, etc etc.

          For SF & Co in the forms of intimidation, humiliation, undignity, power & income loss, even military coupe! etc etc

          Same for MR & Co.

  5. Sarathy.K

    The press could do nothing but be silent when a Tamil Freedom Fighter was being crushed. When a Sinhalese fake leader is accused, it gives so much prominence. Because even the press is afraid of a harsh government. What good can any press do, when it cannot with intelligentia, collect facts, predict, or believe facts from a suffering minority,so that democracy could be saved, not only in Sri Lanka, but worldwide? Too late??? But more truths will come out sooner or later, about the majority racial democracy and it’s disgraceful government which could not protect a useful worldwide intellegient minority race. The Tamil minority has faught a war not only for their own race, but for any minority that suffers in the world democracies. Tamils have also brougtht the Island of SriLank in a better world ;map. Sarathy.k

  6. nahilk

    Thank you for sharing this information. This government has become like North Korea spying on everyone. Next week please tell us how to detect surveillance. Can we go to court to and stop them doing this? Can they read our emails? Because first they will spy on the politicians and journalists but soon they will start spying on all of us.

    • Paranoid State

      Oh don’t compare North Korea and Sri Lanka! North korea is ruled by a dictator and there is no exception to Kim Jong Il. I don’t think that MR is so bad as him although he likes the praises


  8. Kalag

    What is wrong with a Military General running for president? He is using his democratic rights. It may be bad that the heros who destroyed the LTTE terrorists and the diaspora Tamils’ ambition are in the opposite camps. But the good thing is atleast one of them will be the president. Not that RW who sold out our country to terrorists. This election will show that Sri Lanka does not need Tamil votes. If they want to live in Sri Lanka, thy should stop making unreasonable demands. They can go to India if they want any of such demands. In fact, they should go there because that is where came from.

    • Kalag the Moron

      Why are you being a fascist? Accept the fact that this is a fun / democratic situation as oppose to the climate you had few months ago i.e. Pro chauvinist. Fascist / Chauvinists are always losers because this is politics there are only two groups gov or the opposition.

    • Rajesh

      Kalag and all the other idiots who think the humanity is hatred and war,

      I am a Tamil who lives in UK. I have worked with different nationalities including Singalese and Tamils. They all have same day to day problem. They have to earn a living, pay the bills and look after the families. It is no different to UK or Sri Lanka. Kalag, you have shown absolute hatred for diaspora Tamils like me. We did not benefit from LTTE. We suffered from them ever since they started all this. They killed our people, they made others (both Sri Lankan and Indian army) kill our people. Don’t make a mistake by thinking the our people are only Tamils. I refer to all Sri Lankans. A big chunk of the productive young population is lost in Sri Lanka, in the name of freedom fight. Any of the Tamils who killed were refered to as martyrs and any Singalese were referred to as enemies. I don’t deny that LTTE collected money from diaspora. In most cases they were forced to contribute. That is why LTTE was banned in major countris. The guy called Kittu was packed up and sent back because he went little too much to threaten the Tamils in UK. Prabakaran once referred to us as “lost generation”. Then he wanted us to fight for his survival. Most Tamils in UK protested innocent loss of lives but LTTE managed to hijack that as its own. We had no control over it.
      We Tamils in abroad are willing to contribute to the development of whole Sri Lanka. We are not a bunch of idiots like you to think that only way to develop our own community is to destroy the other. We know that Singala and Tamil communities have to be developped side by side. They have been dependant on each othet for thousands of years. That will not change overnight by fools like you.
      Like it or not, the two communities along with others are in Sri Lanka to stay for centuries to come, even after you, MR, SF, RW and I have gone. The Tamils know very well that Singala people are the best of friends they could ever have. Just go and look at in Colombo. Singala and Tamil kids are playing with each other. Don’t poison them with your stupidity. I am not sure what exactly you want in Sri Lanka and for its people. It certainly does not look like peace. Sri Lanka and its people have overcome lots of disasters in their history. LTTE was one of them. The victory in the war will bring Sri Lankans closer ever more. If you have any sense in your head, don’t write any of those nonsense that you have been writing, even though you may have the right to express your opinion. But think about what it will do to someone who is not clear in their mind.
      The problems between SF and MR are nothing. It will be over one way or the other in a few months, if not weeks. Only fools and idiots will think that Singala people will fight among themsleves over this. Why do they have to do that? Haven’t they seen worse than this? They are not fools not to realise that “in politics, there are no enemies, only opportunities”. Let the politicians do their job and let us do our job. Everything will be ok.
      Remember, Sri Lanka is still a young democracy. It will go though its growing up process. Don’t mess it up.

      • Anil

        Very well said Rajesh. All Sinhala & Tamil people have to start thinking like you. What is all this foul language and insults thrown around. It only shows bad breeding whether you are Sinhala/Tamil or pro/anti MR, SF or RW

      • Well, well.
        What has happened to Tamils is not forgettable, but forgivable.

        Every citizen of this country can’t think like that as there is no equal rights here.

  9. Authentic Kundas

    Srilanka named change to Republic of Rajapaksas . Every one say good think about our King MR and Prince GR. No personal saving allowed. All belong to MR . No press nothing. We should be back to Our authentic Sinhala king rule.

  10. Thera King

    Well come to elected mafia land

  11. Bashir

    Welcome to the fold, Sri lanka from us in Sudan. You are doing great and we envy you because you are doing things and getting away with it that we cannot do even in our own fatherland of the Republic of Sudan. Never mind who wins in the next election because I was also a General at one time. We could not do in Darfur what you people are getting away with in the Wanni.May be when one of you retire after Jan.26th we can have you, the Loser, as our Advisor on how to do the trick on human rights. We like to have expertise on pistol gangs too to deal with trouble makers and our enemies. Please help.

  12. LankaLiar

    Sarath this is a humanitarian operation. Read Mahinda Chindanaya you will understand. By the way it is time for Sarath Chindanaya. Have a good time at peoples expense that is what Mahavamsa says.

  13. LankaLiar

    SLTE (Sri Lanka Terror Establishment) and LTTE fought a war. Half of LTTE spilt and joined the SLTE. SLTE won the war. Half the SLTE split half won the other half lost and became LTTE again. So it is LTTE who ultimately won. Because they achived their ambition that is to destroy Sri Lanka. They got it done by SLTE.

  14. [...] excerpt from a story published in the Sunday Leader, 29th November 2009, demonstrates the reach of communications surveillance in Sri Lanka, and the [...]

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  16. mahesini

    I need the justice for my son (automatically will benefitted to the other children)
    I am a mother of a 5 ½ year old son and a wife of a disable army officer. As result of a fighting with LTTE my husband got injured and lost his right limbs from the hip joint and critically damage his left limb.
    Both of us have only 1 kid. He is supposed to start his primary education on 2010 onwards. We have two options to apply schools 1 civil procedure 2 army procedure
    We were applied all the leading schools of Colombo under civil procedure but all of them was rejected because of my husband is an army officer who is living in a homagama. As my husband is a disable man and working in a SLLI regiment at panagoda we don’t have any other option than selecting Officer’s quarters at homagama. My husband is not agreed to make a fake documents to apply to schools.
    In the army procedure also we cannot reached the required marks again because of my husband is a disable man. In the army they were doing welfare of able people. For the disables are concern army is doing little welfare but showed a lot.
    As my husband is a government servant and I cannot work again because his disability we cannot choose a good international school. We cannot bear up these heavy expenses.
    Finally my kid won’t get a good school for a 2010. Reason is my husband got injured in a battle field if I married able officer or a rich man my innocent kid won’t face this situation
    One of you can say why you ask leading school for your son. Why don’t you send him a homagama central college? My answer is why army is giving leading schools for able people. Who need more attention? Disable people or able people. In a country like Japan or Russia they still look after their disable war heroes. In this country within 6 months everything is forgotten.
    Hon education minister cannot involve this problem since this is handling by the defense ministry. Once I try to contact defense minister or the defense secretary they all busy with the political campaign. I cannot wait till end of the election because my son has to be starting his schooling on 1st week of January.
    As a wife of a captain I cannot enter the defense ministry to meet Mr. S hettiarichchi additional sectary. He is the outraised person for school matters. They turn down me from the main entrance by mentioning security reason. He won’t answer to the phone & he also busy with all time. Director welfare in the army is not in a position to help us in his capacity.
    Mr. hettiarichchi is giving a Annanda college to captain yalegama’s son in a unlawful manner and he won’t consider my requests on the behalf of 25000 disable people in the army. His sectary Ms Lakmali said 1000 makes enough for a disable person and 1750 is enough for death man while able person getting 4500. By telling this making system they will continue this unjust method for another couple of years.
    Now our aim is to betterment of my son’s future. As per Mr. s hettiarichchi now we have to go before the supreme courts to get the justice. As you all knows it is a very costly matter and will take time. But any how I will find the way to get the justice even my husband won’t agree with me because still he is a serving officer.
    Any of you can help me to change this unjust system, please do something. Please forward this mail as much as possible. If I am lucky enough this will goes to the president’s or the mr gotabya’s hand. I hope they don’t know about this situation. And they are the only people who can take an action.
    This is not only for me this is for all who has sacrificed their life and the part of their body to betterment of this nation. Through a fair system if I get anuradapura central college for my kid I will take him to the anuradapura without any objection. This is a promise.
    My requests is consider us in 3 separate category under
    1 able—— 2 disable——— 3 death
    Now they treat us under 1 category how a death or a disable man can fight with a able man? ? ?
    Director welfare of the SL ARMY brigadier D R Mayadunne RSP knows about this situation
    (I am mentioning his name without his knowledge as a strong evidence for this incident and please do not take any legal action against him)
    Maheshini Jayasooriya

  17. what happend mr savendre silva besilent he wil arrest by un or ltte

  18. These blogs and all hues of journals are full of SF vs MR.
    The real need is to attend to issues like this education need of a soldiers’ child.
    These are the matters that should have been attended by SL forces/Political leadership.
    Sri Lanka is doomed because it doesn’t look after the public/the ordinary people. Someone from Sundayleader should investigate this and find a resolve to this lady and her kid.Please….???

  19. There is a staggering statistic that

    “at any one time, more than 300,000 children are actively fighting as soldiers with government armed forces or armed opposition groups worldwide. Almost half of the states engaged in warfare in 2002 were reported to use combatants under the age of 15. Children under the age of 18 are actively participating in hostilities in more than 35 countries worldwide – most are between the ages of 14 and 17, but some are as young as seven” (The Inter-Agency Planning Consultation on Child Protection in Emergencies, 2006).

    Debate raged in late 1990s about how to address the growing issue of children being used in conflict. The NGO working group in February 1997 issued a working document commonly known as the Paris Principles but fully titled The Paris Commitments to Protect Children from Unlawful Recruitment or use by Armed Forces or Armed Groups. The Paris Principles began the discussion in harmonization and creation of standards for groups working with armed children in conflict, and reintegration. The document also sets out an agenda by which the ngo group could advocate for the rights of armed children in conflict.

    In April 1997, UNICEF and the Group of NGOs organized a conference in Cape Town, South Africa. The document that was produced from this meeting has become known as the “Cape Town Principles and Best Practices,” and was adopted at this symposium as the standard by which groups working with child soldiers or those groups working to prevent recruitment of child soldiers would focus their efforts. The main thrust of the Cape Town Principles was to encourage governments to:

    Adopt a minimum age of 18 years should be established for any person participating in hostilities and for recruitment in all forms into any armed force or armed group.

    Adopt and ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, raising the minimum age from 15 to 18 years. (Cape Town Principles)

    84 countries have since signed off on the Paris Principles on but other countries have refused.

    It is important to understand why child soldiers are used and to explore ways in which child recruitment may be curtailed. The phenomenon is, however, very complicated. While some children are abducted and used by a fighting force, others join by choice. Given these realities the questions below may guide our discussion into the world of children in armed conflict.

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