Home » News

Tamils welcome plans to question top Sri Lanka general – RNW

[MISC, Tuesday, 3 November 2009 20:18 No Comment]

The Tamil diaspora in the United States has reacted positively to the news the White House wants to question a top commander in the Sri Lankan army. General Sarath Fonseka will allegedly be questioned by the Department of Homeland Security over the campaign to crush Tamil Tiger rebels at the beginning of the year.

Listen to an interview with a spokesman from Tamils Against Genocide

Positive step

General Fonseka is visiting his daughters who live in the US and the Sri Lankan government said he has been asked to testify as "a possible source" against Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapakse. A meeting is said to be scheduled with US immigration officials on Wednesday.

A spokesman for the campaign group Tamils Against Genocide, who asked not to be named, told Radio Netherlands the move is a positive step. The group also hopes it may lead to charges being brought against Mr Rajapakse who oversaw the offensive that left up to 7,000 civilians dead.

“You could even regard this as a follow up to the model indictment that TAG generated in 2009 and submitted to the US Justice Department… They have a full dossier of all the crimes Tamils would like to have the US investigate on these two individuals.

“We would start by charging these them with war crimes against Tamil civilians who were herded into a small no-fire zone during the early part of 2009 and heavy weaponry was targeted against these civilians.”

No US confirmation

The US government has so far refused to confirm it has asked to question General Fonseka, but several Tamil groups told Radio Netherlands they were confident the reports were accurate. The move follows the White House’s publication of a 67-page report cataloging abuses allegedly carried out by the Sri Lankan military during the operation between January and May.

TAG says it would not dispute claims the Tamil rebels used ordinary Sri Lankans as human shields, but says its missions is to expose crimes committed by the Sri Lankan government.

When asked whether the US should suspent Gen Fonseka’s ongoing request for US citizenship, the TAG spokesman said he actually thought allowing him to stay there would help the case against him.

“In fact we would like him to be given US citizenship in which case there would be other cases we could file as US citizens against him when he takes residence.”

TAG also hopes the US government would be able to lean on Gen Fonseka and convince him to cooperate and provide evidence of war crimes committed under Mr Rajapakse’s direction, which would enable them to build a solid case against the Sri Lankan government.

Strong signal to the world

Other Tamil organisations said this sends a strong signal to the international community that governments can not act indiscriminately when dealing with terrorism.

Tasha Manorangan, Advocacy Director for People for Equality and Relief in Lanka (PEARL), said:

"There needs to be alot of public pressure on the US government to say these types of human rights abuses are intolerable and for notions of justice and fairness to stand, the Sri Lankan government really needs to be held accountable for these attacks. You can’t accept everything in the name of counter-terrorism.

"This is a concept the US has got into trouble with under the past… but with the current Obama administration there is a strong shift away from broad accceptance of taking whatever measures are necessary.

[Full Coverage]

(For updates you can share with your friends, follow TNN on Facebook, Twitter and Google+)

Comments are closed.