Vaporising Gen. Fonseka; Asphyxiating Democracy

“No one can terrorise a whole nation, unless we are all his accomplices.”
Edward R Murrow on Sen McCarthy (See It Now)

By Tisaranee Gunasekara

Sarath Fonseka

The government is not the state; the Rajapakses are not the nation. Equating one with the other is false and contrary to democratic norms. Condoning, with words or with silence, the persecution of Gen. Sarath Fonseka is tantamount to equating the Ruling Family with the country and democratic dissent with treachery. This is a deadly development, which will asphyxiate democracy and endanger all opponents of Rajapakse Rule.
During her Presidency, Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga appointed three commissions, ostensibly to investigate several high profile killings, but in reality as a part of her witch-hunt against the UNP, Ranasinghe Premadasa and Sirisena Cooray. The commissions duly found the President’s favourite suspects guilty. When Cooray, faulted by the Athulathmudali Commission, filed a case against its findings, the pre-Sarath Silva Supreme Court quashed the findings, ruling that the evidence lacked ‘probative value’; ‘Was the evidence sufficient to hang even a dead rat?’ Justice Ranjith Dheeraratne famously asked during the proceedings.
Most of the evidence used by the first Military Tribunal to convict Gen. Fonseka and to impose a vindictive sentence on him came from curious quarters. Gamini Abeyratne (alias Taxi Abey), a former UNPer, was recently appointed as a Mihin Lanka director by the President. Johnston Fernando defected from the UNP and became a minister; last week the CID, on the AG’s advice, terminated a probe into an alleged plot to assassinate President Rajapakse; previously the CID had claimed that a suspect in this plot met and conspired with Johnston Fernando. With witnesses of such probity and with serving army officers as judges (working at breakneck pace, as if pursued by the Furies), can the perversion of justice be prevented?
There has to be a degree of proportionality between crime and punishment. Gen. Fonseka was found guilty of meddling in politics while in uniform, a crime which became quite fashionable during the Presidential election. As the Commonwealth Experts Team commented in its official report on Lankan elections, “Another example of utilisation of public officials in the Presidential campaign was the appearance of serving military personnel on state-run television to campaign for the President and against Gen. Fonseka”. The real crime therefore was not meddling in politics per se, but entering anti-government politics. Had Sarath Fonseka opted to join the UPFA, he would be in the cabinet now, rather than languishing in captivity, sentenced to a dishonourable discharge and the revocation of his honours and medals. After all, no such fate befell the senior officers who blatantly campaigned for their Commander-in-Chief on state TV. In a dynastic Sri Lanka lese majastè is an unforgivable sin, for which no punishment is too heinous.

Common Threat

The Rajapakses are allergic to any real opposition; thus their relative tolerance of Ranil Wickremesinghe, with his proven penchant for losing elections. Even his two main rivals do not worry the Rajapakses, as both have failed to increase the UNP vote in their allotted districts (as distinct from their personal preference votes). In Colombo the UNP vote decreased from 51% in 2001 to 41% in 2004 and 36% in 2010; in Hambantota the UNP vote decreased from 37% in 2001 to 34% in 2004 and 29% in 2010. Having thus failed to improve the UNP’s fortune in their own districts, can Ravi Karunanayake or Sajth Premadasa do so nationally? The JVP too, on its own, is unable to mount a serious challenge to the Ruling Family. Gen. Fonseka had that potential; that was why he had to be neutralised at the earliest opportunity. (The Fonseka verdict gives the opposition an excellent issue to work on. Will it?)
Will the Southern ‘patriots’, who danced in the streets and ate kiribath to celebrate the victorious end to the war, rally round their one-time hero? Or will they ignore his plight, just as they ignored the plight of their Tamil compatriots languishing in fear and want? There is a pattern here, of indifference and condoning gross injustices in the name of patriotism. A war which involved saturation bombing and incessant shelling of populated areas was called a humanitarian operation; a zero-civilian casualty myth was maintained by stigmatising as Tigers all Tamils killed by our side; barbed-wire camps incarcerating more than 300,000 civilian Tamils became ‘welfare villages’. These assertions went against reason, intelligence and decency and yet we, as a society, accepted them unquestioningly. We are equally indifferent to the plight of Northern Tamils, Eastern Sinhalese and the Colombo urban poor dispossessed of their homes and their lands under cover of security, economic development or slum clearance; or about the reported demolition of Hindu temples in the East. We do not ask how security can be furthered by a policy tailor-made to antagonise the local people. As TULF leader V Anandasangaree pointed out, “the expansion of military establishment would only cause further resentment among the people” (BBC – 16.8.2010). Incidentally the deplorable attack on three Sinhala traders in Jaffna may be an early sign of troubles ahead. Is it reasonable to expect Tamils to accept a Sinhala –peace?
In George Orwell’s ‘Nineteen Eighty-four’, the enemies of the state are ‘vaporised’, a process requiring not just physical removal but also the eradication of all records and memories of them. Are the Rajapakses trying to efface all records and memories of Sarath Fonseka the General, the former Army Commander and the military leader who played a key role in the defeat of the LTTE by depriving him of his rank and honours? If the Rajapakses can get away with ‘vaporising’ Gen. Fonseka, with no significant opposition from the Sinhala South and the Buddhist monks, it would be a giant leap along the road to total impunity. Gopalswamy Mahendraraja alias Mahattaya was a Tamil hero and the LTTE Deputy. Yet, the Tigers and Tamil society remained mute, when he was arrested, tortured and murdered on Vellupillai Pirapaharan’s orders. The ‘vaporising’ of Mahattaya marked an important point in Pirapaharan’s transition from Thambi through Annay to Surya Devan, a trajectory which would ultimately end on the shores of the Nandikadal lagoon.
The Tigers created a fear psychosis and used it to stupefy and de-sensitize the Tamil society and win its consent for their abhorrent deeds. The Rajapakses too are using ‘propaganda of fear’ to inveigle Sinhala South into acting in a manner that is counter to common decency and basic intelligence.  As the successful protest by Samurdhi officials proves, the regime is still somewhat responsive to key segments of its own base. If the Sinhala South refuses to cooperate in the Rajapakses’ attempts to wreak an awful vengeance on Gen. Fonseka, the Ruling Family may pause for reflection. I am not an admirer of Gen. Fonseka; nor did I vote for him at the Presidential election. And yet, Sarath Fonseka, as a citizen of Sri Lanka and as a human being, deserves justice, even though, during his power-wielding years, he denied that justice to many a Lankan citizen. No citizen of a democracy can acquiesce in the persecution of a fellow citizen without undermining his own right to justice.

15 Comments for “Vaporising Gen. Fonseka; Asphyxiating Democracy”

  1. Ruwan Ferdinandez

    I clicked on this article, to see whether SF was that brainy to say these wise words, “No one can terrorise a whole nation, unless we are all his accomplices.”. My suspicion was justified when I noticed it was in fact somebody else (Edward R Murrow) who had said it.

  2. mahinda


  3. Major Dushan Wijewickrama

    How sad when our true beloved liberator of the country is persecuted thus whilst the crroks who fled the country play act as heros.

  4. Raymond Punchisingho

    What about the general who threw an egg hopper on the face of the cook, because it was not properly centred.

  5. When cowardly elements enter the arena of Politics, the only way to remain in power is by suffocating democracy and freedom. A day comes when all evil is again wiped away and memories remain of the Liars and cowards who connived with the Thieves.

  6. Sinhalaya

    There are traitors in opposition too.i.e johnstan, Laxman, sajith, ranil etc whom are paid workers of MR.

  7. P.L.J.B.palipana

    Thisaranee, this is a very sad situation in our motherland. Although I have never seen or spoken to Gen.Fonseka I have a great respect in my heart towards him

  8. Dear Sarath F,

    Get rid of that Alles guy from your Party. He does not fit in, he is a UNPer. Alles will join Mangala and clan one of these days. Alles is not a patriot.

  9. M. Haramanis Rajapakse

    Lankawe awasan gamanada? THIS IS A TRUE STORY: In 1983 I told a friend of mine: “Lankawe awasan gamana yannata patangaththa”. He asked me: “Mokakda kiiwe? Eke theruma mokakda?” I replied: “Idhiriyedi/anaagathayedi balagannata puluwan vevi”. I don’t need to go into details of what we saw there after. Like this I have predicted many other (Unbelievable) incidents/episodes/happenings which were accurate. NOW, Mr. Karu Jayasuriya says “Sri Lanka stands poised upon a razor’s edge”. I too have the same opinion and have directly and indirectly conveyed this message. What I fear (feel sad) is that Sri Lanka may drift back into the dark era OR the “DARKEST ERA” in SL’s history. SL politicians (not all) are fooling the masses and ruining the country for their own benefit!! Finally they win and we become the LOSERS. This is a poem/kavi I wrote when I was a school student, with the help of my late mother, about the late Hon DUDLEY SENANAYAKE. (Shortened to save space): Dudley maethithuma neni, Oba ape piya neni, Kusagini nivu raja neni, Obata nivan saepa laebei muniduni. Oba apa udesa, boho duk wehesa, duk karadara ivasa, ratata waeda kale apa udesa. OBE VIYOVEN VU PAADUWA RATATA, KISIWEK NAEHAE EE PAADUWA PIRIMASANNATA. Oba yannata giya janaya duk sayure gilva, Thavamath senagha aedhi kadhulen vaelapenawa. SATHARA VARAK AGAMAETHI DHURAYATA PATHVI, JANATHAVATA WAEDA KALE BOHO VEHESVI, ADA EE SIYALLAMA PAS VALATA YATAVI, NAMUTH OBE NAAMAYA KAWADAVATH NODHIRAAVI.
    @ Ms. Tisaranee Gunasekara: I really enjoyed reading your articles that were published on the Sunday Island.
    Api thavamath duksusum helamu.

  10. Dear Sarath Fonseka,

    Get Tiran Alles out of the party, He does not match the party. He matches the UNP

  11. LOwlevel

    We lost the lst hope, It was your own mistake or not running the campaign properly u had wo campaigh managers but there were few media blunders,

  12. P.L.J.B.palipana

    For Hon.J.R.Jayawardene, Nelson Mandela was a terrorist. For MR, Gen.SF was a true hero before one year ago, although now he is a traitor. For vast majority of people Gen.Fonseka is a National Hero.We are now speaking a Relative Time Factor in political theory. The late Hon.Rohana Wijeweera used this as a Basic Foundation to formulate his theory the “Indian Expancionism”.

  13. Roy

    This raja para is maling the law in his favour to punish our geat grat general for nothing,

  14. Suwimal

    General Fonseka says he knew the thinking and the mind set of Rajapakses (MR’s and GR’s) for he worked with them closely. If so, he wouldn’t have contested the elections but staged a military coup. Why didn’t he do that?

  15. Sarath Amerasena

    SF is an ego centric lunatic who destroy him self due to fantacies that he saw. Someone should be able to see tha reality. This what happened when someone failed to do this.
    He missed the bus.

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