Dirty secrets

Sri Lanka’s former Chief of Staff, General Sarath Fonseka, has accused Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s brother, of issuing orders to ground commanders involved in the final phase of the fighting against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to execute all Tiger leaders who surrendered to the military. If true, it confirms rumours that swirled in the aftermath of the discovery of the bodies of LTTE leaders that the latter were not killed in the fighting but were executed by the Sri Lankan armed forces. If the LTTE leaders had indeed surrendered, the government should have tried them in a court of law. Fonseka’s allegations will deepen growing international demand for trial of the Sri Lankan government for war crimes.

Fonseka has since backtracked. He has claimed that he was misinterpreted. But the controversy his allegations kicked up is unlikely to die down soon. He is running for president and is pitted against President Rajapaksa. His revelations seem to have been aimed at maligning his rival. Given the horrific violation of human rights that took place not just in the final phase but right through the many years of war, there is a high likelihood the General has spoken the truth. But Fonseka is being parsimonious with the truth. While pointing an accusing finger at Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, he has sought to absolve himself of responsibility by claiming that he was not in the country in the days preceding the defeat of the LTTE and that he was told about the executions only later. While he was indeed not in the country during that crucial period, his argument that he was kept in the dark over the executions doesn’t hold water. Fonseka headed the armed forces and there is no way that he would not have been informed with regard to an order as important as the one to execute the Tiger leaders. Fonseka has been claiming credit for the remarkable military victory over the LTTE; he cannot wash his hands off its less-savoury actions.

The campaign for the presidential poll has only just begun. Rajapaksa and Fonseka will engage in a no-holds-barred slanging match. As the war of words heats up, more ugly secrets on Sri Lanka’s terrible war on the LTTE will come out. Expect more skeletons to tumble out.

Liked the story?

  • 0

    Happy
  • 0

    Amused
  • 0

    Sad
  • 0

    Frustrated
  • 0

    Angry