Is Truth Treason?

logo_arti-14In all the talk about whether Sarath Fonseka is a traitor or not, few people seem to be discussing the actual point. Human beings surrendering were shot down and killed. Like the Channel 4 execution video, we spend all our time talking about the source rather than the content. Channel 4 is dubious, but I think the surrender thing is true. Isn’t that the point?

Is it really treason to tell the truth about what happened in the war?

Is it really treason to tell the truth about what happened in the war?

Is truth treason?

Is it really treason to tell the truth about what happened in the war? I was reading through the recent UTHR (Jaffna) Report. There’s a lot of stuff in there which we all know but don’t say. Civilians did die, there was shelling in the no-fire zone, the numbers were wrong, food and medicine were under-supplied, LTTErs were lined up and killed — including families. People were executed and detained in the course of the war, screening was somewhat arbitrary and a lot of young men and women disappeared.

None of this is to downplay the complete and nihilistic sadism of the LTTE, which is thoroughly covered in that report and obvious to anybody living here. I support the government against the LTTE for sure, they were psychopaths. But I’m talking about us. I’m glad the LTTE is done but I am also aware of the heavy damage to our own souls.

Is patriotism denial?

Is it really patriotism to be in complete denial about the nature of this war? We decapitated the LTTE using multiple hacks from a blunt blade. It worked but it was a bloody mess and a lot of innocent people died. I saw people shot by the LTTE, but I also saw a lot of children with limbs missing from shell wounds. I was in Vavuniya hospitals at the end of the war and there were few men and a bunch of women and children amputees. Some bad stuff was going on.

I saw that, understand it and — in a callous and selfish way — accept it. As in, my life is better now and that suffering is somewhat distant so, well, OK. I think this is morally abhorrent but it is what I feel. I’m happy that the war is over.

One thing I can’t do, however, is deny what happened. That’s just insulting to the people who sacrificed — soldiers and civilians alike. There is this weird alternate universe in the papers wherein all those phantom limbs are somehow real. But they’re not. I remember seeing a kid at Lady Ridgeway Hospital with no legs. He got hit by shells. No amount of denial is going to make that child walk again. Denial just makes it harder for that kid to heal.

The first casualty of war

I’m not averse to supporting the war. On the whole I think it was probably worth it. That is weird and wrong and contradicts what I’ve said before, but that’s how I feel now. I thought this war would plague my children and now I think it won’t. I’m happy about that.

I am averse, however, to this alternate reality where the war was clean and the only dirty thing is talking about it. I’m not saying prosecute war crimes or whatever, I don’t know. I’m just saying that we live in an island with a whole bunch of people who know what happened and have the scars to prove it. Denying it is an insult to them and our own intelligence.

The point isn’t whether Sarath Fonseka betrayed Gotabaya Rajapaksa. Those are just two men. The point is whether we betray each other, objective reality and, for lack of a better word, God. Terrible things have happened in this war, but the first casualty we acknowledge should be truth. That one we can still save, and perhaps even save ourselves.

29 Comments for “Is Truth Treason?”

  1. Lankan68

    The point is that The Leader is its haste to tarnish Gota’s image has inadvertently killed SF’s campaign branding him a traitor. Its the Leader who has to take that responsibility so stop pointing fingers at the general public or the government. Your quest to come out as a responsible, truth seeking newspaper has backfired so live with it.

    • Bleed Lanka

      Fedrica is gone bonkers these days..she bought another bombshell…headline.Ranil trying to be Executive Primer before the egg is hatch..After all we trying to get rid of the curse what is happening in the country right now.

    • raguna

      SF in his interview and subsequent clarification has brought about two facts which are two separate points although addressing the same issue.
      Firstly, SF was told by a journalist that he heard (or had information about) the DS giving instructions to Field Commanders to eliminate all, even those with white flags. This is only third party information on which proper investigation should be done before coming to any conclusions. Further there is no evidence to say this was carried out.
      Secondly SF firmly denies any wrong doing and takes full responsibility for all happened which confirms, even if any inhuman instructions were received they were not carried out.

  2. Very well said, Indica.
    A great hope for the future from here will be that we truly engage dealing with the substance of all issues, and not be preoccupied with insignificant, or peripheral matters.

    The fact that this country was preccupied playing politcs and mishandled timely socio-economic development initiatives that could have ensured equitable development and distribution of national services to all regions, is undeniable.
    Even at this stage when there is much to say that the ‘absence of ‘war’ has not meant an automatic presence of peace, the fundamental reasons that saw armed uprisings both in the south and the north must surely be simmering beneath the surface.

    There was another comment under the report on the Hon Rani Wickremasinghe’s interview, that tried to continue to disparage his sincere attempt at resolving the conflict through peace rather than bloot-letting. Indirectly, they agree that the Hon RW did stop the war and that Prez MR restarted it.

    The truth, then, is that the stupid sense of invinciblity that made the LTTE leaders so intransigent, led the way for Prez MR to pursue the military path to an end. In this process, it is also true, by the nature of liberal democracies, that a service commander is under overall supervision and command of the Executive. And in this case, it is also true that the executive who was clearly seeing the ending of the war as a politcal tool to remain in power, gave an overwhelming discretion to the brother-defence secretary, an ex-army officer himself. Given these, the General may be motivated to say what he knows to be true of the way the command strcture worked in those final days.

    But what matters for the country is the truth that the ground conditions for further conflict and disturbance of the peace in all parts of our society need to be urgently addressed.
    And the role of all citizens at present, is to decide, from all of what they have at their dsposal about the different parties holding themselves out as politcal leaders to help redeem the land from its present challenges, which group can address these best.
    May all be blessed to choose just and fair leaders who can ensure a period of peace, law and order, and economic well-being.
    May all be safe and well!

  3. Dhananjaya Senanayake

    Sadly the writer has missed the point. Sarath Fonseka at a subsequent news conference denied making the allegation that the SL forces killed the LTTErs who wanted to surrender. As such the question, heading of the article, Is truth treason would not arise.

    However for some reason, if Sarath Fonseka has not stated the truth, then we need to question whether it is treason.

  4. lakmal

    Indi, some truths should not surface for greater good. War is no fairy tale story. If it was supposed to be one, then the war should still be weathering around us. Considering the wave of bombs that went in the south and thinking how close I was to many scenes, there is a big chance that I may not be alive today had it been dragging till today. Today I no longer travel with fear in my mind. My parents are not fighting their war in the heart until I come home in the weekend. Some sacrifices should be made for the benefit of a majority. The path to that may be harsh, but it doesn’t do any good to reveal. The pro-terrorist western media are just aching to drive us to a war tribunal and tarnish the image of war heroes who died in the battle. So far they couldn’t do it, and if SF’s claim-a very creditable claim gives the exact impetus they sought, wouldn’t you call it treason? If this puts in a state where sanctions were imposed upon us and GSP+ relaxation removed, wouldn’t you call it treason? If Sri Lanka is tagged by a nation with war crimes, wouldn’t you call it treason? Some things better leave where they belong, truth always doesn’t do merry.

  5. lakmal

    Indi, here’s an article from your paper
    http://www.thesundayleader.lk/2009/12/15/the-times-of-london-execution-video-genuine/

    Do you see where it is heading? Now they have fuel for their fire. It’s fine if this ends as yet another barking by another UK paper, but if it doesn’t, and goes to a level where I fear it might, then I’m afraid you will not be asking the question ‘Is Truth Treason?’ TC man…

  6. Deshadrohiya

    Bravo some Nice thoughts, Its nice to see such journalist exists in Sri Lanka, As you had pointed out this was a Civil war even after the conclusion of it both parties must live together unlike a war between two nations all get back to their countries and try to forget war.

    Even we call it terrorism i see it as a struggle. A struggle of a minority to be heard. If they did not wage war were we ready to give 13th amendment or make tamil a national language. So even it is over we have to aknowledge their sacrifices and their grief. Thats the only way to heal the wounds.

    Ones who made extra jurisdicial killings must pay back not the soilders but the commanders and leaders who order to excecute. Even we hide them for patriotism some day Karma will write their destany. As a buddhist nation we all belive in Karma and i dont think there is anything as patriotism in Buddhism

    • billy

      if the barbarism and the terrorism by the tamils is justified then why r lamenting for the consequences of it?

  7. jats

    yes its unfair…unfair on the people living with the conflict and yes its unethical of our soldiers to kill civilians…….
    but how about you people, when you reveal a exclusive piece doenst innocent people get vicimised (like the person who took the pic for the article or the source who good intentonally provided the info or the entire staff in office who has to go through the hassle because of a article)
    so the question remains… to handle a person who comes full flow at you with a sharp knife…do you run or defend your self?… to defend, you might need to pick up a knife yourself and you may cut his ear off in the process of defending yourself… yes its unfair on the thug to loose a ear but………..
    or you may run and let him rape your kids and take your money???
    so its not worth talking about the thugs ear…. its better to talk about the thugs children and how they will get a meal and how the thug can reform
    so pls dont talk about worthless aftermath… just talk about how the tamils people can live with respect and have their own people (srilankan tamils) to represent them and repair the damage done to that area by rebuilding and construction

  8. thejana

    this is my personal feeling……..tell me…is there any war won without any civilian casualties?

  9. thejana

    It is not only Tamil……..if this island was a majority Tamil & Sinhalese minority.this happen…….but , we must understand one thing…………we have not fought a war with another nation. we fought among our self. it is because…..though we south Asians have a very long history………still has not come out of a real time solution………
    end of the day…we are looser….such a wast of time & money………..this is the truth……that’s why at least now we must go for a good governance. i am not white washing the general. but . what i feel …at least the discipline will be uphold. friends. it is the foundation of any thing….if Mahinda is there………..you can bring up your kids like Mervin , S.B…………..it is your wish…….

    • billy

      man who doesnt have any discipline in his mouth can discipline a country?
      n where can we go with discipline without a vision?

    • Rosh

      Discipline? Is that all we need to run a country? This SF is becoming a big joker with a bloated ego? His true intentions of taking on MR was clearly written on his resignation letter..there was nothing to take from that other than a foolish man and his EGO!

  10. thejana

    What is discipline?…..respect to every body.Give & take……………….Share..been reasonable……….correct ,good words…correct , good thoughts…..honesty…..down-worthiness……

  11. suren

    COME ON GUYS, READING THE POSTS I GET THE FEELING THAT NON OF YOU HAD BEEN TO A BATTLE GROUND (EVEN AFTER A BATTLE) BUT WOULD TODAY TROT OUT WHATS ON PAPER ABOUT GENEVA CONVENTIONS ETC.
    THE FACT IS, NOT EVEN THE MIGHTY USA OR UK HAD HONORED THE UN TREATIES WHEN THEY INVADED IRAQ AND THE AFGANISTAN……BUT ARE ADVISING LITTLE SL ON HR MATTERS.
    AM NOT SAYING THAT TWO WRONGS MAKE A RIGHT BUT IT IS ALSO A FACT THAT NON OF THOSE CARRYING OR NOT CARRYING WHITE FLAGS WERE SAINTS ON A MARCH………THEY WERE MURDERERS WHO BUTCHERED OTHER HUMAN BEINGS AND DID NOT QUALIFY AS INNOCENT CIVILIANS.
    IT’S GOOD THAT THEY WERE GOT RID OF ANYWAY WHATEVER SOME MAY HAVE TO SAY ABOUT HR !!

  12. Dan

    The fact remains that Gothabaya ordered the surrendering men to be killed. Gothabaya is a war criminal and he should be taken to a war crimes tribunal for it.
    SF should be praised for telling the truth!

  13. DEVONECO

    Hey Dan. Good point. But now it points in a different direction. Now SF takes the blame and responsibility for any war crimes. So, as you say, should SF betaken to a war crimes tribunal now?????

  14. Rah pon

    Both Mahinda and Sarath are not fit to lead the country. Sinhala politicians, for vested interests, brought the budhist priests into the political scene and there is no going back. According to Budhism one of the world’s revered religions, priests are not to participate in politics. But it is just the opposite in SL. i.e because it is encouraged by successive governments.

    What is the idea of President Rajapakse going to important Hindu temples and singing bhajans at his home for Baba’s birthday. Is it wash away all his sins. No sir. So, both are useless candidates for the SL poor and the downtrodden.
    It is not worth spending our time and effort.

  15. SHM

    Sarath cannot have credit for winning the war, while he was out when he was really needed and accusing foul play by his subordinates. If what he is saying is the real truth and prepared to take resposibilty for what happened, he should not be contesting this election but get ready to face ICC in The Hague! If what he said was absolute truth it is war crime. General, you cannot play Tom and Jerry here, this serious matter. The person really enjoying the situation you are placxed in is none other than your friend (enemy) Ranil Wickramasinghe. He will celebrate your defeat more than Mahinda! By any chance if you win -which is never going to happen- you will replace Ranil as the UNP leader, which Ranil doesn’t want to happen. He is not keen in becoming anything except the opposition leader and of course UNP leader. Because he knows his own standing. He is an EU man not a Sri Lankan and can win only in Colombo district with minority votes and not in other parts of Sri Lanka. So far he has led and lost 18 elections. What more you want as a leader? General, you have taken JVP’s ‘direchcha lanuwa’, so you have to face the inevitable!

  16. SHIRAN

    I believe we all agree that their were innocent caught on both side of the isles. wether they were tamils or singhalees a son, brother, or a husband did diminish. I am sure we all sri lankan’s are well aware that we did go beyond the ethics of war. But what should be noted to the world is that an armed group was fighting against the state not an external force but a force with in. Hence if there were violations of so called humans right this will be settled by our government. The government of SL will provide the assistance for both comunities to live a free life. So Investigation should be done by a neutral party but No foriegn nation has a right to punish anyone as this was a internal issue of a soverign country. SLA was not fighting in INDIA or any other country. World calls for Inquiries against the WEST because they invaded nations and violated Human Rights on countries which they were not governing and they should be tried for same. But the issue in Sri Lanka has nothing to do with it. Sri Lankans should investigate their tamil brothers deaths & the government should convey their regrets along with the reasons why it happened. Also must help the families with medical & financial assistance for the next two generations like a son.

  17. Kalag

    The truth will be treason if it is aimed to help the terrorists and hurt the brave soldiers who fought for the country. Iraq war had civilian deaths. Lots of people were killed by missiles and bombings at market places, homes and streets. If you ask the American soldier, he will say he has no way of finding out who is civilian and who is terrorist. Does anyone expect the Sri Lankan soldier to know that?
    The answer is again: Yes truth is treason. It is used at the wrong time and for wrong purpose (election win).
    We (the ordinary civilians of both communities) will come to terms with the war, given the time. The politicians like SF, RW and JVPers are the ones who stirr trouble here. MR is trying to build bridge betwen the two communities. He speaks in Tamil at UN and meetings. He has the courage to reach out. None of the others have that courage, including TNA and Muslim Congress.

  18. Dilshan

    Good Article!

    Sarath Fonseka is an Honest and Truthful Gentleman. He is Brave and Consious Soldier. He fought with Indigenous Tamil Warroirs with Respect.

    The other cowards killed the Surrendering Indignous Tamils warriors and the innocent soldiers, listening to the foreign Buddhist Monks from Mongolia.

    Sarath Fonseka is the Right Man for Presidency.

  19. Dilshan

    With correction……..

    Good Article!

    Sarath Fonseka is an Honest and Truthful Gentleman. He is Brave and Consious Soldier. He fought with Indigenous Tamil Warroirs with Respect.

    The other cowards killed the Surrendering Indignous Tamils warriors and the innocent Indigenous People, listening to the foreign Buddhist Monks from Mongolia. The Buddist Monks killed the Indigneous people in Bhutan and Burma as well to make those countries as Full Buddhist Countries.

    Sarath Fonseka is the Right Man for Presidency

  20. TELLING TRUTH IS THE BEST THING.GENERAL DID IT.AND ALL THE PEOPLE MUST HAVE THE RIGHTS TO KNOW IT.WHY PEOPLE KEEP ON DARK AND WHY HIDING THE TRUTH?.WHY LET THE POLITICIANS TO MAKE PEOPLE LIKE FOOLS?.ALL KNOW THE TRUTH BEFORE THE GENERAL SAID IT.HIS COMMENT IS JUST MADE IT OFFICIAL,BUT ALL KNEW THESE BEFORE.THERE ARE RULES TO PLAY IN WAR.OTHERWISW ALL WHO INVOLVE IN WAR,BECOME CRIMINALS WHO KILLED PEOPLE.SOME IDIOTS IN MILITARY AND CIVIL ARE DOING THESE ACTIONS AGAINST MILITARY BY VIOLATING MILITARY RULES.ACCORDING TO MILITARY LAWS,IT IS CRIME TO KILL ANY ONE SURRENDERED.

    • Dilshan

      A Journalist has named the brigade and command officers involved in the execution of surrendering LTTE combatants in Sri Lanka, in the early hours of May 18th 2009. Names of those Command Officers involved in alleaged War Crimes are,
      ================

      Singheelam Army killed the innocent people to make Surrender the Tamileela Army and Singheela(Buddist converted) armies like cowards KILLED the Surrnederors . That is what the foreign Buddhism Teaches.

  21. SOME TRAITOROUS AND MURDEROUS BUDDHIST MONKS BLAMING THE GENERAL FOR REVEALING TRUTH.WHTA KIND OF BUDDHIST MONKS THEY ARE?.THESE ARE BUDDHIST MONKS WHO ARE SUPPORTING KILLINGS.BUDDHISM AGAINST VIOLENCE.THESE ARE CRIMINALS IN ROBES.

  22. Mahendra de Alwis

    Everyone is getting sucked into the wishes of the Western Bullies who are no doubt still hurting that the SL Govt put them to shame, and are trying to get revenge by backing SF and doing whatever they can to discredit the Govt and it’s leaders. At the end of the day, the “pest” that was the LTTE has been eliminated after ruining the country for 26 yrs, and it is time to MOVE ON in harmony. Which SL govt has not been corrupt?? Which Govt has not had their family members and close associates in high positions? maybe not to the extent as is current, but hey, this Govt DID take the biggest load off the Sri lankan peoples shoulders. Now, let’s give them a chance to fix other wrongs incl their own, and take the country forward. Do we need the “weak” leadership of Ranil? Can we seriously consider SF to be a leader of a country?? he is just a puppet for Ranil and the UNP. The UNP campaign is a joke.
    Once again, forget the garbage of war crimes etc. It may have happenend, but, which war has not had such situations?? It is happening on daily basis in Iraq and Afghanistan right? So why aren’t those crimes being probed? Pot calling the Kettle Black. The US directly broke UN rulings when they invaded Iraq, has anything being done?

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