Fonseka’s private army, within the Army, killed Lasantha
Posted on February 11th, 2010

H. L. D. Mahindapala

The mounting evidence from foreign and local sources against Gen.(retd) Sarath Fonseka, now held by the Military Police at a Naval base in Colombo, indicate that he is in deeper trouble than he knows.

 First, there is the internal evidence collected from the rank and file. In it there is substantial evidence to establish a prima facie case if all his covert and overt moves to stage a coup under his command are put together. Although the finer details are yet to be revealed military sources have connected the links that point directly Gen Fonseka as the master-mind behind the military network getting ready to grab power in the event of a controversial margin of victory coming down to a slim majority.

 The government’s case against him is built on first-hand evidence of officers involved in Fonseka’s plot. Defence Secretary, Gotabaya Rajapakse, told The Strait Times (11/2/2009) that officers are talking to him about the activities of Fonseka. He said: “Our forces never used to be involved in politics but this time they were fully involved and this divided the military. He (Fonseka) used to telephone officers directly. Some officers told me they switched off their cell phones because of this. His campaign staff comprised mostly military officers and their main task was trying to reach the security commanders.”

 It is obvious that the collected first-hand information will be used like a hammer to nail Fonseka for good.

 Side by side with this evidence stands the menacing second aspect of Gen. Fonseka’s tenure in the Army: he has been running a private army within the Army to deal not with Prabhakaran in the north but with his critics and opponents in the south. This is revealed by P. K. Balachandran of the Indian Express, a seasoned Sri Lanka-watcher. In his latest article “Fonseka’s many firsts” (9/2/2009) Balachandran wrote:

 ” — He (Fonseka) was also very sensitive to criticism and was the first Army Commander to have organised a gang of army men to attack journalists and others who he felt threatened by. The assaults, murders and abductions carried out by this shadowy group, allegedly included the murder of the editor of The Sunday Leader Lasantha Wickramatunge. A serving Brigadier Duminda Keppetiwalana is currently under arrest in this case. The army chief’s actions brought a bad name to the Rajapaksa government internationally.”

 This is a damning indictment of the conduct of Gen. Fonseka. Balachandran confirms that he had a “gang of army men” (translation: a private army within the Army) “to attack journalists and others who he felt threatened by.” Getting down to specifics he says: “The assaults, murders and abductions carried out by this shadowy group, allegedly included the murder of the editor of The Sunday Leader Lasantha Wickramatunge”

 Fonseka’s involvement with the assassination of Lasantha was confirmed emphatically by the Defence Secretary, Gotabaya Rajapakse, to the correspondent of The Strait Times. It is a statement that strikes a like bolt from the blue on the journalistic establishment. In reply to The Strait Times question as to whether Fonseka knew about the murder of the journalist Lasantha Wickrematunge beforehand Defence Secretary said: “Yes, of course. We know there was no other person. You have to see the circumstances. Some of the media people harmed had never criticised any other person except him, or people close to him. Nothing happened to those who had been criticising me or the president.

We have a clue whom he has used. We are very convinced. In fact, I know for sure. He was definitely responsible for 5 or 6 cases (of disappearances) where media people were involved. Now I am going after the people who did the executions. The truth will come out very soon, then the people will know.”

All this gathers a new momentum if each statement is read along with two salient points outlined by the Editor of The Island, in his leader of 8/2/2010. In it he says: 1. “The UNP on July 08, 2008, told Parliament that attacks on journalists were being carried out by the army. According to BBC, former Speaker and present Chief Opposition Whip Joseph Michael Perera informed the House that ‘a special team controlled by [the then] Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka’ was responsible for violent attacks on journalists. “We are told by those in the army itself that journalists are abducted and subjected to grievous injury by none other than a special unit under the army commander,” MP Perera told the House. The army denied the allegation.”

2. “Gen. Fonseka may be right in claiming that the probe he is protesting against is politically motivated. Nothing in this country is devoid of power politics. But the question is why it is only the army under his command that has come under heavy criticism for attacks on the media since the resumption of war in 2006. The Navy, the Air Force, the STF/Police and the Civil Defence Force were also involved in the war. However, none of their chiefs has been blamed for abducting journalists. Why?”

Why, indeed? How come all the other service commanders have not faced the kind of charges leveled against Gen. Fonseka? Can there be smoke without fire? Repeatedly the finger has been pointed at Fonseka and his private army and not to any other commander in the Navy, Air force, or Police. When Joseph Michael Perera, the Chief Opposition Whip, made a blunt accusation against Fonseka it would have been done with the knowledge and consent of the Leader of the Opposition, Ranil Wickremesinghe. But now that Wickremesinghe is with Fonseka he has dropped the issue and goes further to paint him as saint.

The Chief Whip of the Opposition did not mince his words when he raised on the floor of the House the raging issue of abductions of journalists and causing bodily harm to them by “a special unit under the army commander”. Clearly, journalistic, political and official investigations have unerringly pointed the finger at Sarath Fonseka. Even conceding that some of them may be wrong, one is still left with the obvious question: can all of them be wrong?

Could it be that, riding high on his military successes, Fonseka had lost his head and was turning into a ruthless Sinhala Prabhakaran, trying to eliminate any opposition to him? The accusations coming thick and fast are too overbearing for him, the UNP and his followers in the JVP to dismiss the charges against him as a political vendetta.

Besides, Fonseka takes the high moral ground of threatening to bring his comrades-in-arms before an international court justice for things he “knows, heard and found out” about their conduct in the battle field. He says that he won’t defend them. That’s fair enough. That is also his right. So if he can take his fellow-soldiers to a court abroad shouldn’t they have the right to try him for things they “know, heard and found out about his conduct in the war to a local court?

For the life of me, I just can’t understand how Fonseka could throw the soldiers who fought for him and with him to the wolves in the international community. Obviously, the man has no convictions or firm principles. He will say anything to get out of a situation. He will sell any mother’s son just to get what he wants. Gotabaya’s story told to The Strait Times reveals the unreliable and filthy political character of Fonseka.

Gotabaya: “He (Fonseka, as a member of the Security Council) knew everything that was going on. The IDP (internally displaced persons) situation for instance. He is the only person who disagreed that the people should be resettled promptly. He completely opposed it. In fact, he said there should be no resettlement for three years. (Presidential adviser) Basil (Rajapaksa) wanted it. The security force commanders wanted it. But Fonseka said, no , he can’t agree.

“Once in the Eastern Province (a war-ravaged province where Tamils are a majority) he even told the security commander to bring back to camps those who had been resettled. Everyone in the army knows that. But once he left the army, he said just the reverse.”

No wonder that he lost credibility as the election campaign progressed. The last election was not fought on policies and programmes so much as personalities. The choice presented to the people was to vote either for the betel leaf or the swan. It didn’t take long for Fonseka’s backers to discover that he was no swan. Like the people they realized that he was a dead duck disguised as a swan.

2 Responses to “Fonseka’s private army, within the Army, killed Lasantha”

  1. Siri Says:

    This man Fonseka must be exposed to the fullest and punished to the full extent of the law if found guilty. It is a joke for the US State dept. to deny that they were helping Fonseka. Being an American and living in this country I know for a fact that when he was having dinner at the Akbar Restaurant in New Jersey he had plenty of security personal from the state security services present. They were seen by a Pakistani Friend of mine who told me of this at the time. I did not even know that Fonseka was visiting the USA. Later I added up the bits and pieces of information and realized what was going on. This type of Security is only accorded to visiting heads of state, not army commanders from third world countries. It is obvious that the US was using Fonseka for regime change like in Iran. Blake was the go between and contact man.

    Norway denies that they were against the Rajapakse regime, but All right thinking Sri Lankans know they have been helping the LTTE for a long time. What happens in Diplomatic circles is always covered up as all other covert operations where the US was involved with like for example the “Iran-Contra” deal. They have been plotting Regime change in many countries like Venezuela, Iran, Cuba etc. Now they have been exposed everywhere and have lost their credibility. Hillary Clinton is the Woman who took money from the Tamil Terrorists and called them freedom fighters. How can we have any confidence in this Secretary of state. She has been caught lying many times during the Presidential campaign.

  2. PRIYAN WIJEYERATNE Says:

    We are blessed to have Rajapakse family protecting our Nation!

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