Arrested Sri Lanka leader urges calm as protests mount
COLOMBO (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s former army chief and defeated presidential candidate Sarath Fonseka has appealed for calm, his wife said Thursday, after violent clashes linked to his arrest on conspiracy charges.
“He wanted me to convey to the people and especially the troops to remain calm and not to be provoked by his illegal arrest,” said Anoma Fonseka, who met with her detained husband late Wednesday.
“They are trying to break his spirit, but they won’t succeed,” she told reporters.
Anoma Fonseka was granted access to her husband at the naval detention centre where he is currently awaiting court martial for conspiring against the government. He was arrested on Monday.
His appeal for calm followed violent clashes outside the Supreme Court in Colombo as pro-government activists pelted stones at Fonseka’s supporters.
Riot police used tear gas and water cannon to disperse the crowds outside the court, where his wife had filed a petition demanding his release. A hearing has been set for Friday.
Similar protests were reported in several provincial capitals.
The opposition, meanwhile, said it had enlisted the help of the influential Buddhist clergy to put pressure on the government of President Mahinda Rajapakse, who saw off Fonseka’s challenge in January’s presidential election.
“We are not planning an agitation outside the court when the case is taken up tomorrow, but we don’t know what can happen,” opposition leader Karu Jayasuriya told AFP.
“What we have done is to ask the Buddhist monks to use their influence over the government,” he said.
Fonseka’s wife told reporters at her Colombo home that the four-star general had been denied visits by his doctor, who has treated him regularly for injuries he received in a suicide bombing in April 2006.
She said she had asked the International Committee of the Red Cross to ensure that her husband can see his regular doctor, but added that the government had ruled out any such intervention.
“I fear for my husband’s life,” she said, adding that metal shrapnel lodged close to his heart and kidneys needed to be monitored.
She also claimed her husband had not been formally charged in apparent violation of the Army Act which requires charges to be brought within 24 hours of arrest.
“It is clear that what we have today is the law of the jungle,” she said. “They are still trying to find charges against him.”
A regional human rights group on Thursday warned that Fonseka was being deprived of “due process” by having his case handled in a military rather than a civilian court.
“This is also depriving the public of information on his case,” the Hong Kong-based Asian Human Rights Commission said in a statement.
Fonseka quit his army post in November.
The government has yet to spell out the specific allegations, but defence ministry spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella said Fonseka had colluded with opposition politicians last year while still heading the army.
The AHRC said Sri Lanka was engaging in “alarming attempts to repress the avenues of the political participation of the opposition and the entire population in general.”
The increase in tensions came as President Rajapakse dissolved parliament on Tuesday and called snap legislative elections for April 8.
Rajapakse was returned to power for a second term last month after easily defeating Fonseka in a bitter presidential election battle.
Sad to see my country in a big problem, can we come to a settelment without fighting eich other ????????????????
No unity among the sinhgales peoples how can we bring peace to Tamila be unaitet please.
You are correct Sameera Majority Sinhalese doing this type of dirty things.We cannot blaim publics this is all coming through un educated politicians.See the 30 years Civil War how many leaders are came to power but nothing.Only one person teach Good Lesson he is H.E.Mahinda Rajapakse he always try to keep our country in good place.But un educated bastered disturb him.One thing they cannot play with Mahinda he very very dangerous person.
This is the same story we have experienced throughout in Sri-Lanka ever since our independence. I am neutral and I dont support anything but a united Sri-Lanka. Let us think logically; if anyone wanted to arrest SP, why didn’t they do it prior to Elections? how can a Civilian (ex-Military) personnel by tried by a Military Court? Where were the allegations before the Elections? For the time being I support the Leadership of the President MR, but I don’t blindly approve all the petty politics and decisions he makes (the advisors to MR in my opinion have made an error of judgement in this case). In fact the government has made SP a popular figure by arresting him and the opposition will do everything possible to get him released (which I feel the right thing to do)..IF ANYONE TO BE ARRESTED, THEY SHOULD DO SO BEFORE ANY ELECTIONS…AND NOT AFTER….IN SRI-LANKA…IT IS AN IMPORTANT TOOL FOR AN EXECUTIVE PRESIDENT….TO IMPLEMENT “EMERGENCY RULE” AND ARREST ANYONE HE OR SHE THINKS A THREAT TO THEM.
DEAR FRIENDS…EVERY INDIVIDUAL SHOULD HAVE THE RIGHT TO SUPPORT ANY PARTY….WHEREAS WE SHOULD NOT ATTAK ANYONE PERSONALLY IN RUDE LANGUAGES.
ONE SHOULD KNOW…IF A COUNTRY’S OPPOSITION PARTY IS STRONG….IT IS BETTER FOR THE COUNTRY SO THAT THE GOVERNING PARTY WOULDN’T TAKE ANYTHING FOR GRANTED.
THE AFORESAID IS A NEUTRAL OBSERVER’S POINT OF VIEW.
My aplogies for the Typing Error i.e. SP should be read as SF.
You are playing more than your limits. The end of your life is very near. (I am writing these things not as any political supporter but this is what I can see very clearly.) Cut and paste this small article in a place where it is visible.
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
THERE WERE MANY WHO THOUGHT THEY WERE INVINCIBLE…THE HISTORY REVEALS IT SELF.. (HITLOR, IDI AMIN, SADDAM HUSSEIN AND FORMER YUGALAVIAN PRESIDENT AND MANY OTHERS) WHO TOOK ADVANTAGE OF THEIR POWER. LEADERS ARE A RARE BREED…AND THEY ARE FEW PRIVILEDGED GROUP ESPECIALLY WHEN IT COMES TO RULING A COUNTRY….(UNFORNUTATELY VERY FEW WE REMEMBER FOR THEIR HONEST RULE…AND MANY WE REMEMBER FOR THEIR ABUSE OF POWER) I DON’T WANT TO PUT THIS PRESIDENT TO ANY OF THE CATEGORY I SAID ABOVE.
I hope Any future Presidents in Sri-Lanka should be Remembered for their good deeds…and not stupidity or dictatorship.
We all know “Politics” has no ethics in Sri-Lankan Politics….I WOULDN’T EVEN TRUST MY OWN FATHER….IF HE BECOMES A POLITICIAN IN SRI-LANKA….
COS. EVERYONE’S A THIEF….IN MY BOOK
Oh my Dear Sri Lankan there is very small differ between terrorist and war hero,that is if you support the King you are war hero if you talk anything against him you area terrorist ,its very simple to understand,can you just pay your texes and shut your mouth please,