This story almost beggars belief. A state that refuses to examine its own war crimes is upset that a man who did commit war crimes may tell the world about war crimes. Farcical:
The Sri Lankan government is threatening to execute Sarath Fonseka, the army commander who delivered victory over the Tamil Tigers, if he continues to suggest top officials may have ordered war crimes during the final hours of the civil war.
The threat, issued by Sri Lanka‘s defence secretary, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, is the latest sign of a bitter feud within the Sri Lankan political establishment, little more than a year after the end of the Tamil war.
Rajapaksa, who worked closely with Fonseka on the aggressive military strategy that crushed the Tigers and who is the brother of the president, Mahinda Rajapaksa, told the BBC’s Hardtalk programme that the general had proved himself to be a liar and a traitor.
Fonseka resigned from the military soon after the defeat of the Tigers. He is an MP and was the main opposition candidate in January’s presidential election – winning 40% of the vote – but within days of his defeat he was arrested. The former war hero is in detention facing a court martial on charges of corruption and politicking while in uniform.
Fonseka roused the fury of the ruling Rajapaksa clan when he joined the opposition, a rift which deepened when he suggested there was eyewitness evidence of the defence secretary ordering army officers to shoot and kill surrendering Tamil Tiger leaders at the end of the war. That witness is said to be a Sri Lankan embedded journalist who is in hiding overseas. In a clandestine telephone interview, Fonseka confirmed that he had heard this account. He said he would be prepared to testify to an independent investigation of alleged abuses during the Tamil war. “I will not hide anything,” he said.
Gotabaya Rajapaksa responded angrily to the prospect of Fonseka giving evidence. “He can’t do that. He was the commander!” Rajapaksa said. “That’s a treason. We will hang him if he does that. I’m telling you! … How can he betray the country? He is a liar, liar, liar.”