It’s THE day, the day I will see my father taken to face a jury which listens to only one side of the story and knows the verdict of the case even before it is opened. I am scared. I am nervous, worried, and stressed. I am clueless about what could happen at the court. I sense that the judgment will be biased and I am not saying this because General Sarath Fonseka is my father. I am saying this because of the many reasons that have been folded up with this case from the day after the presidential elections took place on January 26.
I’ve blogged about some of the incidents and I am wondering how this game will be played. The government has been making and breaking the law and regulations for their own benefit. Here I want to recount what has happened to see if any of it makes sense:
January 27: More than 300 army soldiers surrounded us at the Hotel Cinnamon Lakeside. The accusation was that we were keeping army deserters and my father was planning a military coup. The accusations are false. The court released the accused people on February 26 because the CID and TID failed to find any evidence against them.
My father’s name was blacklisted so he could not exit the country for whatever reason. It was the first time in the history of Sri Lanka that an opposition leader had to wonder if his life was in jeopardy for standing in the elections. My family had been under house arrest for more than 48 hours already.
January 29: The government searched General Sarath Fonseka’s campaign office without a warrant and arrested employees. They accused one of the officers, Brigadier Duminda Keppetiwala, harassed him to give statements against my father. He said, “I feel like putting the nose around my neck for what atrocities this government is committing on us for saving the country.”
Under what legal condition can a person be arrested without a warrant? In what country can a government harass a person into giving false statements? The government also dismissed 12 senior military officers, including three major generals from the army. They were accused of helping General Fonseka. Recently, the government dismissed 10 police officers under more false allegations.
February 8: My father was abducted from his office at 9.15 p.m. They failed to produce a warrant or charge sheets. My father was a civilian then and he should have been arrested by the police, not the army. The officer who came to take him away, Major General Manawadu, a lower ranked officer than my father had been while in the army. According to army regulations, lower ranked officers aren’t allowed to arrest senior officials, even ex-army staff, unless it’s a fraudulent enlistment, desertion or bribery.
That day onward, the government has attempted to silence civilians. Threats were issued to religious leaders and journalists also. I could go on and on but the point is that there is no democracy in Sri Lanka. There is no such thing as a fair trial anymore. My father was abducted and kept in a small room for almost a month without charges. It was almost funny to see the government trying to collect evidence after they had abducted him. When you keep a person for a month, it’s easy to make false evidence and statements. A few weeks before the charge sheets were given to my father, some high government official said in the public media that my father would be jailed for five years. How can someone say that? They already have the verdict for his trial? To refuse transparency and hide evidence for the charges, they’ve taken the steps to court martial him. Another funny thing is the court martial judge panel: The chairman of the military tribunal is Maj. Gen. H.L. Weeraetunga, the brother-in-law of the present Army commander Lt. Col. Jagath Jayasuriya. The other major generals named are people who are very loyal to the president.
The trial against my father itself is illegal. The army act does not apply to him. The government is avoiding transparency by opting for court martial because they do not have to show what is going on. Officials in Sri Lanka, the Sri Lankan people and international parties such as the Assistant secretary of State Robert Blake in the US, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and Shadow Defense Secretary Liam Fox in the UK have all asked the government to hold a civil case and ensure transparency. The government has disregarded all requests and put the case up for court martial because they clearly do not want him to participate in the upcoming general elections. For further information regarding the charges, please look at articles written by Former District Court Judge Kulatileke and Former Chief Justice Sarath N. De silva.
Today, my father will face those people who have already been told what their decision must be. Today, the public will not see what happened and that is what the government wants. Today, my father will be put behind bars for all that he fought for, for risking his life. The people can sense the truth even when they are not told what it is. Political shams don’t last forever and there will be a time when the truth will come out and the truth will set him free.