South Asians for Human Rights

Promoting Democracy, Upholding Human Rights

By Yohan Perera and Susitha R. Fernando

Large crowds including lawyers and opposition politicians protested at Hulftsdorp yesterday demanding that former Army Commander and the presidential candidate Sarath Fonseka be released. Retired General Fonseka was brought to court in a white van — in connection with the white-flag case — from Welikada Jail where he is serving a 30-month sentence with hard labour.

The protest was organized by the group called ‘Lawyers for Democracy’ while several other protests were also held in Ambalangoda, Balapitiya and Matara.

General Fonseka’s wife Anoma was joined by Democratic National Alliance (DNA) MPs, Vijitha Herath, Tiran Alles, UNP MPs Karu Jayasuriya, Sajith Premadasa, Dayasiri Jayasekara, Gayantha Karunaratne and Sujeewa Senasinghe and New Left Front leader Wickremabahu Karunaratne, and Democratic People’s Front leader Mano Ganeshan for the Hulftsdorp protest over the imprisonment of the General.

A large number of public servants and ex-servicemen gathered opposite the Buddhist shrine near the Courts and conducted a religious ceremony with the lighting of oil lamps at the foot of the Bo-tree there. A Buddhist monk recited ‘Seth Kavi’ invoking blessings on the imprisoned DNA Leader.

‘We the lawyers have been forced to seek divine intervention for justice in this country for the first time in its history,” senior lawyer Upul Jayasuriya said when he addressed the gathering.  “The country is being dragged towards lawlessness and it is only through divine intervention that justice and democracy can be restored,” he said.  The lawyers also dashed coconuts at the shrine seeking justice for General Fonseka.

Later the demonstrators marched towards the centre of Hulftsdorf shouting slogans ‘Free Fonseka, the hero who won the war’.

They surrounded the prison van and marched towards the court premises.

General Fonseka who managed to speak a word or two to the journalists said he was willing to sacrifice his life for the country. “I expect justice,” he said when leaving courts.

The area was heavily guarded with the presence of a large number of police personnel and senior police officers who prevented the protesters from entering the court premises. The Ambalangoda protest was organized by the People’s Movement for Democracy while a group of Matara Pradeshiya Sabha members attended the monthly meeting wearing black ribbon to protest the imprisonment of the General.  UNP MP Mangala Samaraweera told a protest rally at Matara that President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s true nature was revealed by the sentencing of General Fonseka. “We must face this dictatorship and unite to fight against it,” Mr. Samaraweera said.

Ms. Fonseka said she was happy to see lawyers gathered in numbers to hold a religious ceremony and striving hard to bring justice to her husband. She said her husband was strong and will not get discouraged by any challenges he had to face. “What happened to my husband today will happen to some one else tomorrow therefore it is time that everyone unite as one to safeguard democracy in Sri Lanka,” she said.

Additional reports by Krishan Jeewaka Jayaruk, Yasas P. Mendis Hemantha de Silva, Chandrasiri Jasenthuliyana and Balapitiya-Hemantha de Silva.

Federica gives evidence

By Lakmal Sooriyagoda

Giving evidence in connection with the white flag case, the Sunday Leader editor Frederica Jansz told before the trial at bar inquiry that former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka had told her in an interview that two days after the war he was learnt that the Defense Secretary Gotabaya Rajapakse had ordered Brigadier Shavendra Silva to shoot LTTE leaders who surrendered to the security forces.

The trial-at-bar inquiry into the alleged statement made by former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka to the Sunday Leader Newspaper editor was came up for hearing before Colombo High Court judges Ms. Deepali Wijesundera the President and two other judges H.N.P.B. Warawewa and Zurfick Razeen yesterday.  At the outset of the trial, former army commander pleaded not guilty to all charges when the charge sheets were read out.   The Sunday Leader editor told Court that she asked the question regarding the final stage of war at the end of her interview that was held on December 8, 2009 in the office of presidential candidate Sarath Fonseka at Rajakeeya Mawatha.

The witness Frederica Jansz giving evidence led by Deputy Solicitor General Wasantha Nawarathna Bandara further told that Former Army commander had told her that Norway and various foreign countries had communicate the parliamentarian Basil Rajapaksa regarding the several LTTE leaders who were willing to surrender before security forces including Pulidevan, Ramesh and Nadesan. She further told that according to the interview with Fonseka, he further told that then Parliamentarian Basil Rajapaksa had conveyed this information to the Defense Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa and he had spoken with Brigadier Shavendra Silva, Commander of the Army’s 58th Division.

The Sunday Leader editor told that even though she was scheduled to write a profile about former army commander, she decided to publish the story “Gota ordered them to be shot” as the page one leading story since it was a controversial one. The editor further told that the allegation that was leveled by Fonseka was denied by parliamentarian Basil Rajapaksa and Brigadier Shavendra Silva, when she contacted them over the phone.        Meanwhile, High Court Judge Deepali Wijesundara ordered the prison authorities to provide special security measures on former army commander the accused of white flag case when he brings in Court. She further directed that the accused Fonseka be separatey transport when he brings in Court.

The further trial was fixed for October 6.  Counsel Nalin Ladduwahetti and several other attorneys instructed by Paul Ratnayake Associates appeared for former army commander Sarath  Fonseka.

Source: Daily Mirror – 05.10.2010