Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Who will save Sri Lanka?

I have watched Sri Lanka, the days leading up to her presidential election of January 26, and now sit in disbelief in its aftermath, eerily reminiscent of the post election days in Iran several months ago.

I write a friend to inquire about the reports I am hearing. She writes back to say that she is not comfortable discussing politics; she is not certain if her internet postings are being monitored; Sri Lanka’s present state feels to her, more like that of Myanmar and she does not want trouble for herself and her family.

Today she leaves this comfort behind in her shock and fear resulting from the events of these last few days: the arrest of General Fonseka and of many of his associates, the forced retirements of other high ranking army officials, the dissolution of the parliament. She worries that anyone who identified with the opposition will now be a target, and this, then, will include her:

"I know I said I will not meddle in politics anymore but things have gone from bad to worse. They arrested the independent presidential candidate of the opposition and are holding him in military custody. He was the general who fought the thirty year long war; now all his contemporaries are arrested too. He's a man who risked his life three times for his country, but yet they're depriving him of his medicine and holding him captive, violating all human right laws in the whole world. In time to come they may just annihilate the members of the opposition, us, as they did to the Jews in Germany. I'm very upset Katarina, this country need not be like this, I cannot stand to watch all this.
Twelve top army officers including three Major Generals have been asked to retire from the service with immediate effect over a ‘political conspiracy’ while serving. Among these officers, there were two Brigadiers and Colonels, Lt. Colonels and Captains.

Last Friday the CID arrested Brigadier Duminda Keppetiwalana, a serving officer who is the Commandant of the Army Training School in Ampara. He held the position of Military Assistant when General Fonseka was Commander of the Army.

Accordingly, more than twenty other retired officers and soldiers are now in custody and more are due to be arrested. Another source said that a large number of senior and junior officers, who have been transferred to the office of the Chief of Defense Staff are to face inquiries in connection with the alleged ‘political conspiracy.”

I do not know what to say, what to write to my friend. How do I reassure her? There is no one – no entity stepping forward to prevent the M. Rajapaksa administration from proceeding to take what ever action they wish: arrest, detention, perhaps execution? With no clear mandate, the international community sits by and watches yet again as another potential tragedy unfolds, hands tied from taking any meaningful action.

Now, I read an Amnesty International report on the arrest of General Fonseka. It claims the General was preparing to offer testimony of war crimes against this current administration. This has been reported only following the General’s violent arrest yesterday. ( )

Other reports indicate the arrest is to prevent a coup d’etat. This has been generally reported leading up to the arrests - but one man’s coup d’etat may be another’s assumption of his legitimate position had it not been for a rigged election. One cannot know what to believe.

I opt to believe the words of my friend. The question now is – what does one do? What action can I possibly take that will any impact at all? I cannot think of anything; all I can do is write.

Writing and publishing – exposure of humanitarian crimes – can sometimes create the line which is drawn between outrageous action taken by a desperate dictator and heinous crimes against humanity committed when despotism is left entirely unchecked.

And so today I write and hope that others will join me.


Anonymous said...

The question is not "who will save Sri Lanka" but "How to save Sri Lanka". The Western world is not in any means thrilled of the current situation in Sri Lanka. They want war, if we don't have one they want to create a war and that's what has been done. The most respected general, the National hero, was dragged into the presidential election forcibly by the opposition parties with the blessings of the Westerners as they could neither tolerate the popularity of Rajapakse nor the prosperity of Sri Lanka. General repeatedly said that he is not getting into politics but he changed his word. Things went from bad to worse since the day general exposed some top secret military information to the public out of hatred. And all who were around used him to create this turmoil in the country. Now people stop talking about development programs or the relocations and demining activities in the North-East regions, we have another war to worry about.

I heard about the so-called conspiracy, right after the Election Day. Several media reported about a military coup, some exposed names of certain personals who were involved in this (both locals and the foreigners). Some twenty numbers of deserted soldiers were captured while having safe guard under the general and last Thursday, on the independent day, general declared that he is the president in Sri Lanka at the Hide Park grounds, Colombo. Once again, the general was used by the Western forces and victimized sad thing is he has no clue about what happened to him.

After the Election drama some people don’t want to consider SF as a war hero. Some don’t care and a few, backed up by the Western forces are on the streets disturbing the peace forcing the government for his release. I did respect and hail the general. But I don’t know enough to say that there wasn’t a conspiracy. I definitely don’t want to see Rajapakse getting killed. Finally, there won’t be a smoke without at least a tiny spark. So, let the government handle it. Some transparency in the investigations is essential. In the mean time, lets think of a way to save our motherland rather than waiting for some one to do it.

Anonymous said...

The previous comment has put things into the right perspective. UNP (without anybody to challenge Mahinda) got together with JVP which was fast losing its popularity and Tamil and Muslim parties to form a crack coalition. Sarath Fonseka, a national hero, was misguided by these power-greedy politicians and was turned into a so-called traitor. Shame on UNP, JVP, TNA, MC coalition and their western backers!