For Channel 4 News, last week’s verdict was the last chapter in an ongoing saga that has seen the Sri Lankan government attempt to destroy the reputation of Channel 4 journalism across the globe.
Of course, in some ways, the UN conclusion is just the beginning of what surely must be a new investigation into Sri Lanka. But for now, this is the story of the tape – and the shocking repercussions of reporting uncomfortable truths from secretive war zones.
One frontline soldier told Channel 4 News: "Yes, our commander ordered us to kill everyone. We killed everyone."
And senior Sri Lankan army commander said: "Definitely, the order would have been to kill everybody and finish them off.
"I don't think we wanted to keep any hardcore elements, so they were done away with. It is clear that such orders were, in fact, received from the top."
Despite allegations of war crimes, Sri Lanka's government has managed to avoid an independent inquiry. But the evidence continues to mount.
A small problem with that theory, Channel 4.
Sri Lanka has over 11,000 Tamil Tiger combatants in custody. Why did they not just kill them all? Why are they now a burden on the state? The same state that provided for these people, even in areas under Tiger control, for more than three decades? One would think that taking a senior leader captive makes more strategical sense to the military rather than killing them? The information obtained from captives can prevent them from rearming and regrouping?
Has anyone noticed? The ICG report and now this Channel 4 claim comes just days apart.
The rich (funds raised through extortion, human smuggling and debit card scams) and influential Tamil Tiger network overseas remains intact and is heavily lobbying for war crimes charges.
Unfortunately, as with all their recent endeavours to get back at the Sri Lankan government, after a crushing defeat, this too shall pass with nothing coming of it.
VAVUNIYA: Tamil war refugees residing in camps in Vavuniya categorically denied that Sri Lankan troops guarding the camps had raped or indulged in any other form of sexual abuse as alleged by a former inmate [Damilvany Gnanakumar, she calls herself "Vany Kumar" these days] in an interview to The Observer newspaper of London.
“It’s a mischivous rumour,” Rasendran from Ponneryn, who had been living in the Kadirgamar camp for months, told visiting journalists on Wednesday.
“The troops never did anything of that sort.They don’t even come into the camp,” said Nityanandan from Kilinochchi.
Sharma, the priest of the makeshift Shiva temple, and himself a refugee, said that there was no truth in the allegations.
“We face no problems with the army,” he said.
The UK national, who managed to leave the camp, told The Observer that she had seen soliders putting their arms on girls, and charged that soldiers gave females food only if they agreed to have sex with them.
At a rehabilitation centre for young male and female LTTE cadre, the inmates said that the behaviour of troops was “exemplary”.
“They treat us with courtesy and understanding,” said Tharshini from Puthukudiyiruppu , who was being trained in tailoring.
“It was after seeing their behaviour that I revealed that I had been in the LTTE for a few months, a fact which I had concealed in the first instance out of fear of the consequences,” the 17 year old said.
“Till recently, the camps were so congested that a thing like rape or molestation could not have occured here. We were all here in the camp all the time, because till December 1, no one could go out of the camp,” pointed out the middle aged T.Sarawathy from Kilinochchi.
A Tamil employee of the postal department in the rehabilitation camp for LTTE cadre said that the kids (all between 12 and 18) felt pretty safe in the camp
“This is more like a hostel than a refugee camp or detention centre,” he said.
Asked if the London Observer story had any basis, the Competent Authority for the refugees in the Northern Province, Maj.Gen.Kamal Gunaratne, said that had only one term to describe such an allegation: “Bullshit!”
“There are far too many people in the camps for that kind of thing to happen. Besides, the army is a disciplined force,” he said.
He asked the visiting journalists to talk to the refugees and find out for themselves if these stories were true. True enough, officials allowed the scribes to go anywhere in the camps and talk to anyone without any armyman looking over.
Most of the inmates said that conditions had improved enormously since they arrived in April or May. The medical facilities are excellent with more than a hundred doctors on call
“Except for the shortage of toilets and cash, we are fine, and are being treated well,” said Loheshwaran, a herdsman from Pooneryn.
“Those who had relatives abroad got money through the banks in the camp, but those who did not have anyone, had to live only on the limited rations given by the government and the NGOs,” he said explaining the reasons for the cash shortage
From December 1, the inmates had been allowed to move out and work. Some of them did begin to earn to bring in some cash. But being basically farmers or fishermen ,the refugees could do little to earn money except as manual labourers.
This is why they are really looking forward to going back to their villages.
“I am part of the 1000 people leaving for Pooneryn today. I am happy to get back and start from livelihood which is animal husbandry. I am looking forward to selling milk in Jaffna across the lagoon,” Loheswaran said.
The LTTE cadre in the rahabilitation camp, are also looking forward to leaving the camp and joining their families.
“We have been told we’ll be let off in May,” said Suganthie from Trincomalee who got forcibly recruited to the LTTE when she was visiting a relative in Puthukudiyiruppu.
Suganthie, who was taking lessons in dress making and the use of computers, said she her ultimate aim was to become a computer engineer.
Most of the LTTE cadre looked very young, between 12 and 17. They were extremely small made for their age but were intelligent and spoke well. Almost all said that they were forcibly taken and given some military training, though only some had actually served on the front lines.
Asked what they thought of the LTTE and their leader Velupillai Prabhakaran, the female cadre were categorical in their disapproval of the organisation. They did not feel sad when the organisation folded up.
But the reaction among the male cadre was mixed. They would not say that the movement had no base. But all of them said that it should not have gone in for forcible military service.
“Forcible recruitment became unbearable during the last year of the war. That is when the LTTE began to lose popular support,” said a refugee who had earlier beein a government servant.
Tags: Clinton, Damilvany Gnanakumar, India, Internally Displaced, LTTE, Mahinda Rajapakse, Media, Sri Lanka Armed Forces, Sri Lanka War, Tamil Protesters, Tamil Tigers, Tamils, UN, Vellupillai Prabhakaran
Sri Lankan government forces on foot patrol.
Nearly a year after the Security Forces killed Prabhakaran and finished the decades long conflict, the Government continues to be haunted by allegations of war crimes. Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, has called for an international investigation on many occasions. Last week, as she repeated this message on presenting her annual report in Geneva, she was joined by a rather more influential figure – the UN Secretary General. Ban Ki-moon has now appointed an expert panel to advise him on ‘accountability issues’ in Sri Lanka.
This is one of the first really meaningful steps to be taken by an official body. And it won’t be the last.
The Government invariably responds to such pressure by declaring that those applying it must have ulterior motives. If they are lucky, they are only accused of grubbing for votes. Or they are said to have sour grapes about some petty incident or other. Their advice wasn’t heeded, perhaps. The range of implausible explanations has become quite vast over time. Most are claimed to be actively working towards the resurrection of the LTTE. Fascinatingly complex reasons for this are then suggested.
It is sometimes true. But the actions of Ban Ki-moon should alert people to the fact that there is something more going on here. We need to understand why an official of his standing feels compelled to look into the situation in Sri Lanka, despite the country finally being at peace.
This is what prompted me to request an interview with Professor Francois Houtart, chair of the largely-ignored Dublin Tribunal. His team found the Government guilty of war crimes at a three day session held at Trinity College in January this year.
There are plenty of reasons to question their conclusions.
The report is almost completely lacking in details, and the supporting evidence that the authors say can be found on their website has not been uploaded yet, two months after proceedings closed. Professor Houtart explained that they could produce only a summary of their findings for publication because the documentation submitted was so vast and the organisation responsible for compiling it had limited resources and worked on a purely voluntary basis. The information was available in Rome for anybody to consult, he told me over the phone from his office in Belgium. This may be fair enough, but it makes assessing the validity of the document rather tricky.
Worse, there are some glaring errors.
The document opens with a particularly bad one. It says, ‘From the time the war began in July 2006 through April 2009, according to United Nations internal documents, air raids and the use of heavy weaponry resulted in the death of 116 people per day.’ This implies that about 120,000 people were killed under the watch of Mahinda Rajapaksa, not counting victims of the LTTE and those who succumbed to small arms, mines and due to sickness or the lack of proper food and water, which Professor Houtart acknowledged on questioning was ridiculous. It is more like the total number of dead in 30 years.
Everybody in Sri Lanka knows that the United Nations estimate refers to the final stages of the war and that an extrapolation of this was the basis for the claim made by The Times and then repeated by other media groups that 20,000 people died. That the authors didn’t spot this very obvious discrepancy in their complaint against the Government doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in their ability to carefully review information and reach sensible conclusions.
Nevertheless, there is no getting away from the fact that a group of eminent intellectuals have come to believe that the Government was responsible for war crimes.
Professor Houtart is totally convinced, and his opinion should be respected. He is an internationally recognised figure, having been involved in social work all his life. His links, particularly with progressive leaders in Latin America, are formidable. Last year, he won the UNESCO Prize for the Promotion of Tolerance and Non-Violence.
He is also no stranger to Sri Lanka. I met him in Colombo some five years ago, but he has been visiting at regular intervals from the 1960s. He did his PhD thesis on Buddhism here.
The Dublin Tribunal is one of many in which he has participated. His involvement in such work dates back several decades, to the effort organised by Bertrand Russell and Jean Paul Sartre to question American foreign policy and military intervention in Vietnam. Professor Houtart has chaired a number of sessions, including one on the Iraq War that condemned the United States in the harshest of terms.
He isn’t biased. Nor is he a fool.
Whether or not he is right about why the Ceasefire Agreement broke down and what was subsequently done to beat the LTTE can’t be cleared up in the space of this column. But in the course of discussing his interpretation of the facts, he made an important point.
The primary concern in Sri Lanka must now be reconciliation.
This is what motivated Professor Houtart to accept the invitation to chair the Dublin Tribunal. As he told me, experience shows that if the truth is not recognised, it is impossible for a country to move forward. The repercussions may not be felt at once, he said, but they will come. A genuine process of reconciliation will emerge only if people can reach a common understanding of what happened during the war.
It is blindingly obvious that there is no such consensus to date. The vast majority of Sinhalese believe something quite different to most Tamils.
The same is true in the diaspora, I might add, or actually to a far greater extent. How those who supported the LTTE are to be persuaded to give up their struggle for Eelam if no efforts are made to bring them into a serious dialogue, I am really not sure. They present the most imminent danger to the country as things stand, considering the funds and networks to which they have access.
My suggestion to Professor Houtart was that to insist on an approach that might lead to prosecutions was to close off all possibility of debate in Sri Lanka. The sense of relief and gratitude towards the Security Forces for finishing off such an old and all-consuming problem is just too widespread and strong for that to be allowed. The more people in Colombo and other parts of the country that were insulated from the full impact of the conflict feel they are being pushed towards legal action, the less willing they will be to consider whether the narrative they have come to accept regarding the final stages of the war is the whole truth. We then remain stuck in talk of a humanitarian rescue mission, surgical strikes and a zero casualty policy, phrases that can only anger those who lost relatives in the Vanni.
The Government clearly isn’t going to be forced into doing anything other than settling scores with Sarath Fonseka in any case.
Professor Houtart disagreed, saying that the law couldn't be ignored. He said that to do so would jeopardise what he called the 'whole social fabric', adding that pardons could still be issued afterwards.
This is worth further consideration.
Remains of Tamil Tiger fighters displayed to the media after the fall of the Tigers' stronghold in May 2009.
It seems to me to be the key to dealing with allegations of war crimes. Indeed, the interview as a whole reinforced my feeling that Sri Lanka must now look back at the last three decades and try to understand where mistakes were made and why, in order to ensure that they can never be repeated. Enough time has passed. The country is secure.
Mahinda Rajapaksa is about to consolidate his success in the presidential election with another poll victory. Once the UPFA returns him a majority in Parliament, he will have run out of excuses to act on reconciliation and all the other issues he has been avoiding in the past ten months.
Ban Ki-moon probably doesn't want anything more than such a process of reflection, assuming it is sincerely undertaken. Getting started would therefore be an excellent way of shoring up relationships with the international community. We should remember that it was never only Western nations who were concerned about human rights violations and a political solution for minorities.
Nobody should mistake this as a call to bow down and capitulate to the demands of Navi Pillay or whoever else. It is just a happy coincidence that doing what is best for Sri Lanka will also help in dealing with institutions like the UN.
The Tamil Tigers (or what's left of the terrorist movement) have gone to great lengths to get these "asylum seekers" into Australia. Recently a Canadian Tamil, Jessica Chandrashekar, who had flown all the way to Indonesia was apprehended trying to smuggle laptops and other documents to those on board. Jessica Chandrashekar, Pamela Curr and Saradha Nathan, who call themselves activist were detained and deported.
Now it appears the Tigers have turned to the famous Tamil Tiger propagandist Dr. Brian Senewiratne for help. Brian was quoted today speaking to yet another naive Australian journalist, Sarah Dingle, who considered him an "Australian doctor of Sinhalese origin," which then gives us a sense of neutrality.
Those who know Brian realise that over the last several years Brian was on a paid campaign to give the Tamil Tigers (LTTE) legitimacy as freedom fighters. The Tigers invested heavily on such speakers to appear as though they were fighting for the aspirations of the Tamil people of Sri Lanka.
Is it not strange then that doctor Brian appears out of thin air to talk about a Chicken Pox outbreak on board a vessel that has had a known Tamil gang member deported from Toronto and several others already identified to be Tamil Tigers?
Here is a quote from ABC,
Dr Brian Senewiratne, an Australian doctor of Sinhalese origin, has spoken with those on board and he says chickenpox is a deadly threat to those in a weakened state.
"If that chickenpox spreads to the children there will be an epidemic of chickenpox," he said.
"One of the complications of chickenpox in these malnourished, neglected children who are undernourished and generally rundown is that the chickenpox gets into the bloodstream and then gets to the brain. The technical condition is called encephalitis.
"The death rate under the age of five from the chickenpox encephalitis is almost 100 per cent, if not 100 per cent.
"On that boat, I can assure you that if the children get the chickenpox encephalitis, not one will survive."
A spokesman for Indonesia's department of foreign affairs, Teuku Faizasyah, says he has not been told about any chickenpox outbreak.
"I haven't got any information yet if there's any occurrence of chickenpox," he said.
That's not all. The Tamil Tigers and their proxies have convinced others that this boat load of people need to be resettled and they are suffering. No mention has ever been made of the fact that these "asylum seekers" or "refugees" paid thousands of dollars to human smugglers to take them to Australia instead of India. If they were really fleeing persecution, torture, and abuse why not land in India? The UN states that all refugees must enter their closest port of call, not thousands of miles away, passing several countries to find the most lucrative?
Listen to these mindless "activist" being used as a mouthpiece to serve the interest of a terrorist movement:
Here is an international statement supporting the asylum seekers in Merak, Indonesia.
It has been jointly issued by 13 organisations from seven countries: Indonesia, Malaysia, India, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand.
A call for urgent action by the Indonesian and Australian governments
Merak asylum seekers need a just solution
The situation at Merak has dragged on much too long. For over 120 days, the 254 mostly Tamil asylum seekers have been stranded there. They have suffered hardships at the hands of the Australian and Indonesian authorities.
There are thousands of real refugees who wait patiently for years for their cases to be heard. Forget them. Just pay a human-smuggler and you're in. Is that the precedent being set?
Regardless, from what has been visible thus far it appears as though several high profile family members of the Tamil Tigers could well be on board this vessel. Why else would their be such keen interest in only these "refugees"?
Photo: Gotabhaya Rajapaksa by foto.rajith
The former Chief of Defence Staff, also the former Commander of the Sri Lanka Army, and more recently the main opposition candidate who ran against Mahinda Rajapaksa in the presidential election, has been arrested.
Sarath Fonseka's arrest came after a comment he had made to the BBC in which he said he would not hesitate to testify against those who had commited war crimes in the recently concluded war with the Tamil Tigers.
In an interview with The Sunday Leader (13 Dec 2009) Fonseka also accused Defence Secretary, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, of ordering the executions of surrendering Tamil Tiger leaders and combatants.
However, The Sunday Leader printed a clarification the following week by Fonseka,
“As Commander of the Army during the final stages of the war, I did not receive any communication that some LTTE leaders were planning or wanting to surrender.
I was not told at any stage they wanted to do so and that some kind of an agreement had been reached that they must come out carrying pieces of white cloth.
I can speak conclusively and authoritatively on this particular issue and say categorically that nobody carrying white flags attempted surrender in those final days of the war. Therefore all of the LTTE leaders were killed as forces completely took over a remaining 100m x 100m area of land north of Vellamullivaikkal.
Two days after the war ended I learnt through some journalists who were entrenched at the time with then Brigadier Shavendra Silva that an illegal order had been conveyed to General Shavendra Silva by Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
This illegal order was however not carried out at ground level. I take full responsibility for what happened on the ground.”
By implicating Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, even in his clarification, Fonseka has most certainly angered the all powerful Defence Secretary.
Gothabaya, a retired Army officer, is the brother of president Mahinda Rajapaksa. He is credited with masterminding the strategy of the Tigers' fall.
Fonseka and his supporters on the other hand credit the fall of the Tigers to Sarath Fonseka.
According to media reports, even prior to the 2010 election there had been friction between the two. This animosity was perhaps a crucial factor in Fonseka's decision to run for president.
Several hours after Fonseka's comments to the BBC he was arrested by Military Police. He remains in the custody of the Military.
Below is a quote form the LA Times,
The government information office said Tuesday that comments Fonseka made to the British Broadcasting Corp. in which he vowed to testify in a war-crimes trial against the government proved his disloyalty. The government has strongly resisted any outside review of its activities during the final days of the conflict.
State news media said that in speaking to journalists Fonseka had divulged state secrets.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa was away from the island when Fonseka was arrested. Its possible that he may not have been aware of the arrest till after the fact.
Its a plausible assumption.
Mahinda Rajapaksa is a seasoned politician, a lawyer, and a former human rights activist. Gotabhaya on the other hand was a military man with 20 years service. He served on the front lines in tough combat operations in the late 80s.
In interviews with the media Gotabhaya has always appeared hot headed, short tempered and at times very irrational. This decision to arrest the opposition candidate bears all the hallmarks of his doing.
At what cost?
Rajapaksa's popularity took a dip when the Editor of The Sunday Leader, a stark critic of Gotabhaya, was senselessly gunned down by unknown assailants. The investigation into Lasantha's killing has gone nowhere a year after his death. The Rajapaksas have done little to push the investigation ahead, or to clear themselves of involvement in the slaying.
The president's popularity has taken yet another hit with the arrest of Fonseka. Protesters have taken to the streets in support of Fonseka, and Rajapaksa supporters have begun clashing with them on the streets. The law enforcement is apparently siding with protesters from the ruling party.
A quote from the Associated Press,
Government supporters — who decided to hold a counter rally at the Supreme Court — threw rocks and chased away opposition demonstrators.
"We were walking peacefully when we were attacked by government goons," said Marina Abdeen, an opposition supporter.
Police were deployed in the area but did not intervene until opposition members started fighting back. They then shot tear gas at them.
An Associated Press photographer said some opposition members had bloody head wounds. A hospital official, Pushpa Soyza, said three civilians and two policemen were treated for minor injuries.
Thousands of opposition supporters demanded Fonseka's release while burning life-sized posters of Rajapaksa. They also smashed coconuts, a local tradition based on a belief it could bring divine intervention to their cause.
In his second term Mahinda Rajapaksa had the opportunity to undo the damage his brother has caused. But, it appears that he has squandered the opportunity. Since the election the Sri Lankan media feels more threatened than ever before and democracy has taken a sever blow with the opposition voice stifled.
It won't be long before the people of this country question the path Sri Lanka is taking after the end of war. The masses will want to know who is in charge of Sri Lanka. Is it the president or his brother?
Amidst all this another generation of the Rajapaksa family is set to enter the political stage. Namal Rajapaksa, son of president Mahinda Rajapaksa, will be contesting in the forthcoming parliamentary elections. If he hopes to have any chance of running for president someday, he will need to work with his father on stopping his uncle dead in his tracks.
Tags: Gothabaya Rajapakse, Lasantha Wickrematunge, LTTE, Mahinda Rajapakse, Namal Rajapaksa, Sarath Fonseka, Shavendra Silva, SLFP, Sri Lanka Armed Forces, Sri Lanka War, Tamil Tigers, UNF, UNP, War Crimes
Sri Lankan slueths apprehended the new Tamil Tiger leader Kumaran Pathmanathan (a/k/a/ KP) in Malaysia last year. His arrest has led to the arrest of Rajan (a/k/a/ Subramaniam Siva kumar).
He [Gotabaya Rajapaksa] said the suspect, known as Rajan (alias Subramaniam Sivakumar) "had been arrested in a South-East Asian nation" and brought to Colombo on Thursday.Tamilnet, the Tamil Tigers' official website, in an apparent effort to send a message to the diaspora, made a subtle announcement of the arrest of a "Tamil civilian" in Colombo.
He said that the information regarding the suspect came from Tamil Tiger leader Kumaran Pathmanathan, who is currently being held in Colombo.
A Tamil civilian Subramanian Siva Kumar was arrested by the Terrorism Investigations Department (TID) in Colombo, according to the Director of the TID. He told media persons in Colombo Thursday evening that the suspect has been identified as a hardcore cadre of the LTTE.
The government of Sri Lanka has confirmed that Rajan was the second in command of the overseas branch of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (a/k/a/ LTTE, a/k/a/ Tamil Tigers) and he was arrested outside of Sri Lanka with the information obtained by Kumaran Pathmanathan.
Sarath Fonseka, once the Chief of Defence Staff of the Sri Lanka Army. Photo by foto.rajith.
Honestly, there was nothing shocking about Fonseka's loss in the 2010 presidential elections. Ask a nationalist if Sarath Fonseka was any more instrumental in the defeat of the Tigers than Brigadier Shavendra Silva, and the answer is more than likely going to be "no".
The Commander of the 58th division (formerly Task Force 1), Shavendra Silva, was instrumental in taking on the Tigers deep in their heartland. Troops under his command ran through Tamil Tiger strongholds, taking town after town, progressing quicker than most experts thought possible. The voter base Fonseka hoped to garner support from knew all too well the most minutest detail of how the war was won.
Ask anyone who followed the end of the war closely and they are likely to tell you Fonseka's role was nothing more than passing on orders. The Sinhalese nationalist voter, that Fonseka hoped to win over, knew that the Rajapaksas transformed a military which had struggled to defeat the Tigers to a professional fighting force. Fonseka, nor the Sri Lanka Army could defeat the Tigers before. We know it was only possible post 2005 due to the will of Mahinda Rajapaksa.
It appears the voters knew that too.
In his resignation letter, upon stepping down as Chief of Defence Staff to run for president, Fonseka said he was unhappy with the treatment he received after the end of the war. He was convinced that he was instrumental in winning the war.
As far as the average man was concerned it was Rajapaksa who made it all possible.
Sarath Fonseka seen here complaining to the media after his loss to Mahinda Rajapaksa. Photo by indi.ca.
So who voted for Fonseka? Opposition supporters, Tamils who supported the Tamil Tigers and wanted Rajapaksa defeated as a means of getting even, and those who down right hate Mahinda Rajapaksa for reasons best known only to them.
Some didn't care what would become of Sri Lanka had Fonseka won, they just wanted to see Mahinda fail at something, anything.
The Tamil Tigers and their funding source (the 1million strong Tamil diaspora spread across parts of Europe, Canada, and Australia) were praying that Rajapaksa would be defeated. David Poo'pillai the national spokesman for the pro-Tamil Tiger Canadian Tamil Congress told AFP weeks ahead of the poll that the "Tamil diaspora wants Mahinda to be defeated."
Poopalapillai is seen on this video here supporting the Tamil Tigers on Canadian national television. Canada has listed the Tamil Tigers as a terrorist organisation.
So it was no surprise then that Poo'pillai's British counterparts calling themselves "Global Tamil Forum" these days, led by the Tamil Tiger propagandist Suren Surinendran, were devastated this morning at the news that Mahinda had won.
Suren like Poo'pillai had backed the pro-Tiger Tamil National Alliance which had thrown it's weight behind Fonseka in hopes of avenging the defeat of the Tamil Tigers.
The only thing Fonseka had in common with all these groups who backed him is their personal gripe with Rajapaksa. So the next time you hear Fonseka talk about representing the aspirations of the people, ask him to go f*ck himself. We know better.
With that said, we get a better understanding of the 6,015,934 voters who turned up in support of Rajapaksa. 57.88% of 14,088,500 voters placed their faith in Mahinda Rajapaksa with no ulterior motives, or with revenge in mind, or sinister agendas up their sleeves. They voted for him because they have firm faith in him to take Sri Lanka forward after war.
Photo by indi.ca.
In the end the Sinhalese majority vote was not split as the foreign media had hoped. The minority vote did not decide the election. The results from the Western Province, namely Colombo- a multi ethnic city where Burghers, Tamils and Muslims make up over 50% of the population, if looked at closely enough, will reveal that even the non-Sinhalese backed Rajapaksa to some extent. Rajapaksa took Colombo by 52.93% (614,740 votes).
If you are Sri Lankan then you know what's next. There will be claims from the opposition of a rigged election. Fonseka has already written to the Elections Commission crying foul. The following is an excerpt from the BBC,
Dear commissioner of elections. Before and after handing over the nomination papers, President Rajapaksa's election campaign has made great use of state resources.
Further, there have been threats, intimidation and accusations levelled against me. Many of my supporters were intimidated.
The government engaged in a campaign abusing state media and state resources to accuse me of being a foreign agent and a traitor.
Eventually it will sink in. Fonseka will realise that the sheer margin of defeat cannot be attributed to abuse of state media. That's a feeble excuse.
In the letter, Fonseka also tells the Commissioner of Elections that he fears for his safety,
I humbly request you to order the inspector general of police and other appropriate authorities to take appropriate security measures to protect my life and to protect my freedom of movement.
Ironic isn't it? Fonseka, once in charge of the quarter million strong Sri Lanka Army now fears for his own safety and is holed up at his residence. Moments after the election results were announced Fonseka had summoned the media and informed them that he feared leaving the hotel. Several hours later he departed with no incident.
The government appears to be bemused by all this. Another quote from the BBC,
Late at night, Gen Fonseka finally left the hotel in a BMW and was not arrested. "Why should we persecute him?" asked Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa.
But the president's brother said the authorities were concerned about allegations against them made by Gen Fonseka during the campaign.
Fonseka betrayed the very administration that was responsible for making him a war hero. Those close to him backed him and lulled him into a false sense of security where he felt he was popular enough to be voted in as the next president. He failed. He stepped down from his post as Chief of Defence Staff and now he is nothing. What was he thinking? Did he really think that an opposition which the people have no faith in could win him an election?
Poor Sarath Fonseka.
Reuters: Rajapaksa wins election
Sarath Fonseka complains to NewsX after his camp first hear of news that their party was loosing the election. He tells the Indian news network that he is ready for another war to defend himself. Fonseka wants foreign governments to intervene. However, despite these claims, Fonseka left the hotel with no incident and headed home.
Bloomberg: Sri Lankan elections carry on peacefully.
VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Colombo speaks to voters on election day.
CNN coverage on election day.