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We built too many walls and not enough bridges.

By Keerthi Ratnayaka

(October31, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) Three decades of time people of Sri Lanka were gripped by horror, now a great sigh of relief has flow across the entire nation being finally released from the grip of the fear of terrorism. The Sri Lankan Nation now looks to the future with renewed hope and enthusiasm but a political dialogue needs to be initiated as soon as possible to prevent the Tamils from becoming an oppressed people again.Thus legitimate concerns and aspirations of the Tamil people and other minorities must be fully addressed. Government must aware that defeating a terrorist group does not solve the underlying grievances of its people. Prior to work out what so ever, Government is constituted to face a election. SL political stage warming day by day as Gen. Fonseka’s name is hitting news headlines as a prospective candidate for the next Presidential election. Today Rajapaksha regime is ready to extend even the prime minister post to merely make silence his profile,as Gen.Fonseka has became the most strong symbol of the nation.There are widespread campaigns to have Gen.Fonseka elected as president in near future.Many Srilankans believe that Gen.Fonseka's stance against corruption and his non alliance to traditional political methods could put the correct path towards the extreme development and law and order of the country .

Gen.Fonseka functioned as un shaken tower in his tour of duty in Srilanka army,till changing the dire situation of motherland. In the wake of the fall of Elephant Pass base complex to the Tigers in early 2000, Major General Fonseka, was appointed Security Forces Commander of Jaffna while Major General Janaka Perera became Overall Operations Commander, North. As soon his assignment he called MBRLS to continue war and multi-paralleled rocket launchers (MBRLs) set caused a lethal weapon against LTTE and in much of northern territory being reduced to rubble. During the so-called prace process Major General Sarath Fonseka took command of troops in Jaffna 10 may 20002,result of the cold war of President CBK and Prime minister Ranil, returning to a post he was transferred out of in 2000 following infighting in the Army high command.On the day he take over duty all shops and schools were closed down and black flags were hoisted in Jaffna. In the phase of ceasefire agreement Maj.Gen Fonseka ordered Army to continue maintain bunkers as well construct new bunkers within hundred metres of the LTTE’s FDL in violation of the ceasefire agreement, despite the matter being brought notice the SLA several times by Colombo Government as well SLMM.

Maj.Gen. Fonseka came to prominence in the peace process when, in December 2002, he issued a public letter defying the CFA and refusing to withdraw from High Security Zones (HSZs) he disregard the claim arise from SLMM,LTTE even from the Government on restriction conditional of high security zones and resettlement of the internally displaced Tamils in their own homes and villages in Jaffna close with military occupation.Replying Gen.Fonseka called LTTE to lay down arms to impliment such claim despite of the Government version.Responding LTTE leadership was critically reviewed the document put forward by Major General Sarath Foneska, with regards to de-escalation and return to normalcy of civilian life in the Jaffna peninsula which was sent to the LTTE through the SLMM.LTTE leader noted by its official statement " Inevitably, the SLA's refusal to honour the commitments already reached between the GOSL and the LTTE seriously undermines the ongoing peace process.It is clear that the Sri Lankan Army is opposed to the peace process and its adopting a hardline positioning full awareness of the negative impact this will have on efforts to resolve the conflict in Sri Lanka.Most importantly, Gen.Fonseka is not making adherence to the cease-fire agreement reached by the LTTE and the GOSL.

Speaking to representatives of the North Ceylon Journalists’ Association about attacks caused on media persons covered the melee in the outskirts of Jaffna city by Sri Lankan armed forces as well para militant, He said that newspapers in Jaffna do not give the correct picture of the situation there and that the news they publish is “half information and distorted” intended to make people angry at the Sri Lankan armed forces. We don’t have any intention of attacking, assaulting any media people. But I also must tell you at the same time we are not hundred percent happy about the way media people in Jaffna are carrying out their jobs. .I can provide proof from articles in Jaffna papers in the last month to show how unfair you have been. I just mentioned this for you to know that you also have to make some effort to change this situation. This is why the media (in Jaffna) haven’t got the confidence of the security forces”, thus leave a margin for ‘other pressures’ on Jaffna journalists for not ‘reporting correctly’. Sometimes we are forced to use tear gas, rubber bullets and baton charge. We use the word minimum force in such situations. When troops baton charge the media calls it an attack”.“If media people were inside the mobs then you also would have had to face the baton charge and the rubber bullets. You happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. You have to take precautions .Journalists should inform us as an organised body when they want to cover an incident. Then we can take a certain amount of responsibility for your safety. Otherwise we cannot provide you safety.Referring to the murder of the well-known Jaffna journalist, Mr. Mylvaganam Nimalarajan, Maj. Gen. Foneseka said:“Security forces had nothing to do with this. It was a political killing. We understand your emotions towards this incident. There are various hidden hands… forces in the south”.He said that certain parties operating in the south, which called “half militant, were behind Mr. Nimalrajan’s murder.

By barring pro LTTE campaigns in Northern territory, Major General Sarath Fonseka, instructed all the Government official as well five zonal directors of education in the Jaffna district not to allow any public events to take place in school premises during school hours with out his approval. The circular issued in this regard asked all education officials not to allow students and teachers to attend events in public places in school uniforms.The circular has categorically ordered the what ever official, not to allow hoisting of Tiger flag in any event inside such premises.interfering with the Great Heroes’ Day arrangements in the peninsula, he said the SLA won’t allow the Tiger flag to be flown in Sri Lankan government buildings and public places.

When President Rajapakse came to power , he appointed Lt. Gen. Fonseka to the post of Army Commander, JHU and JVP provoked the same . Stresssing word on new government peace initiate he said the Army today was not going to be docile as when Chandrika Kumaratunga was President."People thought like in the past one and half or two years we will put the white flag and shape up matters," Due to my aggressive military ‘retaliation’ LTTE returned to peace talks in a short period he said.”the difference between previous peace efforts and the present one is that the new government is going for talks with 'peace and respect.'”Referring contemptuously to the United National Front (UNF) government of Premier Ranil Wickremesinge, Lt. Gen. Fonseka said: “those days people spoke about peace as they were scared to face the LTTE.”“If they could have, they would have eliminated the LTTE, but because they [UNF leaders] were scared of them [Tigers] they spoke about peace.”

Declaring offensive in Mavilaaru Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka vowed to take control of Tamil Tiger controlled Sampur in Trincomalee “within days” as military offensive against the enclave continued for the fourth day. “We have gone through half way and we will capture the whole area within a few more days,” “We are doing it now and we are being successful,” he said.In 2008 Gen Fonseka was due for retirement, thusly he claimed that he would not leave the war to his succeeding commander, at a New Year party hosted by him to local and international journalists at his residence at Bauddhaloka Mawatha in Colombo.

In a program on Sri Lanka by the ‘Unreported World’ produced by Channel 4, British reporters tried to travel to the island’s North and East to investigate the continuing abductions and killings of civilians.As part of the program, the reporters interviewed Army commander, Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka.Asked how it is that so many people were being murdered or abducted in mysterious circumstances across in Sri Lanka, even in the capitol, Colombo, Gen. Fonseka said: “those are the allegations by interested parties who are trying to sabotage or block the military operations.”“ And They have vested interests several parties. They say hundreds are missing, hundreds are murdered. But as far as complaints are concerned, there are no formal complaints even entered in the police station or something like that. There are no witnesses who come to police station and given evidence,” he said.Asked about the killings and abductions that refugees in the east, said i: “If you are saying Karuna’s people are doing it or any other paramilitary groups, then it is a problem between the LTTE and the paramilitary groups.” “this area [east] is not a normal area. So people getting killed and some people going missing will happen as far as the anti-terrorist operations are continuing.”Lt. Gen. Fonseka meanwhile insisted the LTTE can be defeated militarily.The British reporters had been given permission to visit Jaffna for four days.Prior to leave from island they brought out during the time they were here, four people reported missing, Channel 4 said.

In an interview published in the state-controlled Sinhala daily Dinamina on January 2, 2008, Foneska said the “treachery” of the media was the only obstacle hampering the military’s fight to defeat the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).“The biggest obstacle is the unpatriotic media,” “I know 99 percent of media and journalists are patriotic and doing their jobs properly.But unfortunately, we have a small number of traitors amongst the journalists. They are the biggest obstacle.”Gen. Sarath Fonseka, in an interview to Canada's National Post , said he "strongly believed that Sri Lanka belongs to Sinhalese."I strongly believe that this country belongs to the Sinhalese but there are minority communities and we treat them like our people," quoted Stewart Bell of the Canadian paper National Post the Sri Lankan commander as saying."We are also a strong nation. They can live in this country with us. But they must not try to, under the pretext of being a minority, demand undue things."

An interview to a Sri Lankan state-owned newspaper Gen.Fonseka remarked Indian government "is not interested in a ceasefire in Sri Lanka" as it has listed the LTTE as a terrorist organisation and added that the Indian Government would never influence Sri Lanka to restore the ceasefire with the LTTE and it would not listen to the "political jokers" of Tamil Nadu whose "survival depends on the LTTE".When asked by the newspaper reporter about allegations of Sri Lankan security forces' disregard for civilian casualties, Fonseka replied: "These allegations are made only by the corrupt politicians in Tamil Nadu who have been bribed by the LTTE. Though they are very much aware that the civilians are not getting killed in any of these military operations they try to utter some words on behalf of the LTTE as their survival depends on the LTTE."

Recently addressing The religious ceremony organized by Washington Buddhist Temple Gen.Fonseka remarked, he had rendered his service to the Motherland as an Army officer for several decades and would be always prepared to continue his service, duty and responsibility towards the Motherland.Killing of Prabakaran would not end terrorism.

What we need now is to develop a society that would not create more Prabakarans. It is not necessary to detain Tamil people further. Detaining them further would create more Prabakarans in the future.We should take the country that was liberated from terrorism towards development. If my Motherland that was liberated from terrorism is driven astray, I am, prepared to give up my uniform and work with people to take the country on a correct path.

Yes General,through out past We built too many walls to safe guard the mother land, now right time to build bridges to come across our own people.You are the saviour of our Nation.

(The writer, editor, www.rawaya.net, online journal based in Colombo, Sri Lanka)
-Sri Lanka Guardian

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