Home » Related

Sri Lankan Buddhists: Release opposition leader

[AP, Sunday, 14 February 2010 11:51 No Comment]

Senior Sri Lankan Buddhist monks urged the president on Sunday to release his main rival in last month’s presidential election, who was detained on allegations of conspiring to overthrow the government while serving as army chief.

In a joint letter to President Mahinda Rajapaksa, the heads of four top Buddhist chapters condemned the arrest of Gen. Sarath Fonseka after his election defeat.

The chief monks are highly respected by politicians and civilians alike in the predominantly Buddhist nation, and their intervention could affect the government’s plan to try Fonseka in a military court.

"We wish to stress that we do not under any circumstance approve of the arrest of former army commander Gen. Sarath Fonseka who risked his life for the country’s unity," the monks wrote.

They asked Rajapaksa to use his presidential powers to clear Fonseka from all allegations.

Buddhist Sinhalese make up more than 70 percent of Sri Lanka’s 20 million people and the clergy enjoy a prime place in society. Political leaders traditionally seek the blessings and advice of the chief priests.

Rajapaksa and Fonseka are hailed as heroes by most Sinhalese for their role in defeating Tamil Tiger rebels last year, ending the country’s 25-year civil war.

After a falling out, Fonseka resigned from the army and contested the election. The opposition describes Fonseka’s arrest as revenge for daring to challenge Rajapaksa.

Opposition supporters took to the streets last week to protest Fonseka’s arrest and his lawyers are seeking his release, saying that his fundamental rights have been breached.

[Full Coverage]

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

Comments are closed.