DMTX. In Colombo, Sri Lanka, the left-wing political party, Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) staged a non-violent protest today, calling for the release of (Retd.) Gen. Sarath Fonseka who was earlier a
In Colombo, Sri Lanka, the left-wing political party, Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) staged a non-violent protest today, calling for the release of (Retd.) Gen. Sarath Fonseka who was earlier arrested for military offences. Colombo, Sri Lanka. 15/03/2010.
SRI LANKA, Colombo, March 15, 2010 – Even though he is alone in a chalet at the Navy Headquarters, the one-time commander of the Sri Lanka Army is not without his ardent supporters. Set to a background track of lottery vendors who promised quick riches, and shaded by a sacred Bodhi tree, members of the left-wing Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna staged a non-violent protest calling for his release. The level of vigour and emotion in the protests however, was watered down from what was seen when Fonseka was initially arrested.
Fonseka is scheduled to face the Courts Martial tomorrow (16), and the JVP has called for islandwide protest calling for the Government to release Fonseka. The Government recently announced that he will also face charges in front of a Civil court for crimes which can be punishable under the Civil judicial system.
“He is being subject to a court martial at the whims of the Government" says Somawansha Amarasinghe, the leader of the JVP. Amarasinghe was a staunch supporter of Fonseka, when the military strongman pitched a bid for the office of the President – running against his former Commander-in-Chief, President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
The two main opposition parties – the capitalist United National Party, and the socialist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna, two fierce opponents till the Presidential Election – united under a single political wing in an attempt to elect Fonseka to the office of President. Now however, Fonseka is left with the newly formed Democratic National Alliance led (DNA) by the JVP. With the break of the alliance, the energy of support that Fonseka had has also died down. The United National Party (UNP) – Sri Lanka’s largest opposition party and a staunch supporter and driving force behind Fonseka’s Presidential bid – has taken a step away from their former Presidential candidate to focus on their own election campaign.
Fonseka entered the stage of active politics following a rift with President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Fonseka who was the commander of the Army, was appointed as the Chief of Defence Staff – the highest military post in the Nation. With it however, came power dynamics which acted in a way that made Fonseka feel that he was being sidelined, and reduced to a ceremonial position.
Come election day, President Rajapaksa secured a second term with almost 60% of the total votes, in an election which Fonseka and his allies alleged was rigged. The immediate period following the election was highly tense in Colombo, when the hotel that Fonseka was in was surrounded by Army personnel who were previously and ironically under the command of Fonseka himself.
Just over a week later, Fonseka was arrested by the Military Police for military offences including politicking while in uniform, planning to overthrow the Government, and financial misappropriations during his tenure as the Commander of the Army.
Massive crowds gathered in the Capital city, and in various areas of the country to protest the arrest, which the opposition parties claimed was an act of vengeance by the Government against Fonseka. Violent clashed ensued, with police being called in to control the crowds by means of tear gas and water cannons.
The intensity and vigour of the protests started to die down, as the country stared heating up with the preparation for the General Elections which are scheduled for mid-April. Fonseka who is currently detained by the Military Police is also a contender for the elections, in which the people of Sri Lanka will elect 196 of the 225 members of its legislature.