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If what was said was true even Fonseka won’t be spared
Published Date: 13/09/2017 (Wednesday)

By: Sakif Samy Thanvir

Former Presidential Secretary K.H.J. Wijedasa during a recent interview aired his views  on issues pertaining to the allegations made against war heroes, war crimes and the response of Sarath Fonseka with regard to Jagath Jayasuriya. Here are excerpts of the interview.

  • These charges are being proved by confessions made by Tamil refugees who fled to England during the war
  • There are moves in Peru, Chile, Argentina and Surinam, the other countries where he had served as ambassador, to file action against him
  • If this statement had been made without any malice and is true, it brings disrepute to the Sri Lankan Army. Now the Sri Lankan Government is in a serious predicament
  • This is because given the statement Fonseka has made, then he knew that a senior army official under him had committed war crimes and he didn’t take any disciplinary action against him nor did he charge him (Jayasuriya) in a court
  • The statement harmful to the Unity Government and its stability. One can’t say that this is a direct violation of Cabinet collective responsibility
  • What Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka has done is make an utterly baseless allegation. By his action he has put the country in hot water

Q After assuming power the present Government declared that all charges levelled against the former government regarding war crimes and war tribunals had ended. But what is the reason behind the sudden emergence of war crime charges against former Army Commander Jagath Jayasuriya?   

The charges being made against Jagath Jayasuriya are that during his tenure as the Wanni Commander, the soldiers who were under his command, had launched Rockets and artillery fire on hospitals and subjected the innocent public to gruesome torture. Some civilians were killed unmercifully during these attacks. These charges are being proved by confessions made by Tamil refugees who fled to England during the war. In support of their claims they had produced medical reports on the injuries sustained by them and the mental stress they had undergone. But there is a serious doubt on the veracity of these reports.   

I agree hundred percent that the statement made by Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka is not only unethical and an undisciplined one, but it is harmful to the Unity Government and its stability.

Q Does that mean they are all fabricated?   
Most of this evidence may have been fabricated with the view of obtaining permanent residentship in their adopted countries.Up to now no official indictment or charges have been framed by the Sri Lankan Government or the Sri Lanka Army on any sort of violation of human rights by Gen. Jagath Jayasuriya. However in Brazil and Colombia, where he functioned as the Sri Lankan Ambassador, cases had been already filed. There are moves in Peru, Chile, Argentina and Surinam, the other countries where he had served as ambassador, to file action against him.   

Q The former as well as the present Government had clearly stated at international forums that no war crimes were committed in this country. Who do you suspect is behind the machinery that is making these allegations despite an assurance being given that war crimes weren’t committed in this country?   
Sri Lanka has no interest in framing charges against General Jagath Jayasuriya with regard to human rights violations and war crimes. But in the forefront of this move in framing charges is South African Indian origin Lawyer Yesmin Sooka. She is the Director of the Truth and Justice Movement of South Africa which is a Government organization for Human Rights in South Africa. She was a member of the committee appointed by the United Nations to inquire in to the alleged war crimes in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka boycotted this committee. She is bent on teaching Sri Lanka a good lesson.  

Sri Lanka has no interest in framing charges against General Jagath Jayasuriya with regard to human rights violations and war crimes. But in the forefront of this move in framing charges is South African Indian origin Lawyer Yesmin Sooka 

Q This story became very sensational with former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka declaring that General Jagath Jayasuriya is a war criminal and he would give evidence in a court trial against  Jayasuriya. What is your opinion on this statement?   
If this statement had been made without any malice and is true, it brings disrepute to the Sri Lankan Army. Now the Sri Lankan Government is  in a serious predicament. In this instance even Field Marshal Fonseka wouldn’t be spared. This is because given the statement Fonseka has made, then he knew that a senior army official under him had committed war crimes and he didn’t take any disciplinary action against him nor did he charge him (Jayasuriya) in a court. All these can be considered as serious offences. Not reporting such offences over a period of eight years is a serious matter. In the event Gen. Jayasuriya is hauled up before a court, which is after eight years, it will be very difficult to obtain evidence from eye witnesses.   

If this charge is fabricated and levelled against taking vengeance on Gen. Jayasuriya, instant repercussions on such misdeeds would follow as ennunciated by Lord Buddha.

Q Is there any basis for these charges made by Fonseka?  
What Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka has done is make an utterly baseless allegation. By his action he has put the country in hot water. This statement will bring misery to the whole country. Now he is in a pitiful state. By this statement of his the fate that befell Yugoslavia, Serbia and Kosova could befall on Sri Lanka as well.   

Q Doesn’t an army commit war crimes? Shouldn’t such crimes be opposed?   
There is a saying that in war and love there is no justice or injustice. During the past thirty years our army wasn’t engaged in fondling children. They were fighting a dangerous war. It is natural that certain crimes take place. But there are laws and procedures to be followed, duties to be performed, etiquettes in war to be adhered to and know about the dos and the don’ts. When ninety nine strictly adhere to these guidelines and one person does the opposite then he should be taken before courts and charged. This is the global practice. If this charge is fabricated and levelled against taking vengeance on Gen. Jayasuriya, instant repercussions on such misdeeds would follow as ennunciated by Lord Buddha.   

During the past thirty years our army was fighting a dangerous war. It is natural that certain crimes take place. But there are laws and procedures to be followed, duties to be performed, etiquettes in war to be adhered to and know about the dos and the don’ts.

Q President Maithripala Sirisena declared at the SLFP anniversary, that no one should level charges against Jagath Jayasuriya or against any war hero regarding war crimes and the Government would protect war heroes. A day after that, in Kelaniya, Fonseka repeated what he said. Can he overstep the President in this manner?
The inference from this is that it is evident that Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka is experiencing mental worries and is exercising hatred. He may have made this statement with the mindset that he would face any situation. He hasn’t given thought to the disrepute that would be brought upon the country and how our credibility can be tarnished through such statements. Such statements affect a regime’s good governance in its forward march. These types of statements have an eroding effect on the present United National Party.   

Q If the Government is truly protecting the war heroes how should its actions be in this regard?
It is a political gimmick of this Government when it makes statements that it will protect war heroes. In every flock of sheep there will be a black sheep. In an army comprising 200,000 men, there can be twenty who would have violated human rights. In other words there can be one criminal among every 10,000 soldiers. Filing charges against him on disciplinary grounds and taking court action would clear the country of its blemishes regarding human rights violation. Such action will help rebuild the image we lost. This approach to dealing with those who have charges levelled against them will enable us to remain unblemished in the face of international investigations.   

But in this case when the Government is maintaining the position repeatedly that it is protecting the war heroes, this statement can be interpreted as declaring a war against the Government.

Q Some insist that a no confidence motion should be moved against Fonseka, while others argue that disciplinary action should be taken against him and that he should be stripped of his ministerial position. As an experienced Government servant what have you got to say?   
I agree hundred percent that the statement made by Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka is not only unethical and an undisciplined one, but it is harmful to the Unity Government and its stability. One can’t say that this is a direct violation of Cabinet collective responsibility. And if a Cabinet decision has been taken then it can be interpreted as going against Cabinet responsibility. But in this case when the Government is maintaining the position repeatedly that it is protecting the war heroes, this statement can be interpreted as declaring a war against the Government. Therefore the Government should support the no confidence motion to be moved against Fonseka or remove the accused from the post of cabinet minister. It is clear that the Government has no option other than the two I have mentioned.   

By his action he has put the country in hot water. This statement will bring misery to the whole country. Now he is in a pitiful state. By this statement of his the fate that befell Yugoslavia, Serbia and Kosova could befall on Sri Lanka as well

Q This Government is facing no confidence motions against its Ministers. Some Ministers have resigned. Can such a Government move forward?
This is a Government formed with handpicked individuals. When forming this type of a Government one should have expected this type of setbacks. A Government like this can’t continue as it has turned in to no body’s business.   

Source: Daily Mirror

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