Broken windowpanes, scattered teacups and overturned chairs were what visitors saw when they were shown the room from which General (Retired) Sarath Fonseka was forcibly removed by Military Police officers who stormed the General’s campaign headquarters in Rajakeeya Mawatha, Colombo 7, last Monday. A Military Police officer’s name tag lies on the floor.
Staff at General Fonseka’s office told visitors, including journalists, that they were keeping the room in exactly the same state it was at the time of the General’s arrest, so that visitors would have an idea of what had happened that day.
|Anoma Fonseka has appealed to women’s groups for their support.
At the time of his arrest, General Fonseka was discussing future election strategy with Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) leader Somawansa Amarasinghe, Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) leader Rauf Hakeem, Democratic People’s Front (DMC) leader Mano Ganeshan, and JVP Member of Parliament Sunil Handunnettthi.
Eyewitness accounts of the arrest from persons present at the time correspond with the signs of a tussle in the room. It was from this room, on the upper floor of a two-storey building, that General Fonseka conducted his campaign for the Presidential election.
According to staff at the General’s headquarters, Military Police officers who entered the building had tampered with the CCTV cameras and removed recording equipment.
The staff told the Sunday Times that General Fonseka was forcibly carried away, although the General had protested that he was capable of walking. The General was carried to the gate, where at least two buses and several vans were waiting. All the vehicles left the scene as soon as the General was driven away.
Photographers who arrived on the scene and took pictures of the heavy security presence outside the General’s headquarters were challenged by the military police and ordered to hand over the memory cards in their digital cameras. The memory cards were later returned to the photographers, with all content deleted.
Immediately after the arrest, members of General Fonseka’s family and the Opposition attempted to ascertain the whereabouts of the General, but with no success. It was only about 20 hours later that the General’s wife, Anoma Fonseka, was able to visit her husband. According to Mrs. Fonseka, the General had been refusing to take any food.
"Our people are known for being grateful, but
I never expected my
husband, who fought the worst terrorist outfit in the world, to be treated in this manner. I have lost all faith in people after what has been done to my husband.” – Mrs. Anoma Fonseka,
wife of General
“My husband was refusing food because he did not trust anyone,” Ms Fonseka told the Sunday Times. “That’s reasonable, considering the way he was treated. The first food he took after his arrest were the short-eats I brought him. I didn’t take him a packet of rice because I didn’t know under what kind of conditions my husband was being detained. I wasn’t even sure if there would be a place to put the litter.
“Also, I could not have a private conversation with my husband because there were at least four people in the room,” she added.
According to Mrs. Fonseka, her husband is being held in a heavily guarded apartment at Navy Headquarters. She said she has been shuttling between Navy Headquarters and her Queen’s Road residence twice a day, taking meals and medicines to her husband.
Mrs. Fonseka told the Sunday Times that she had lost all faith in the government over the treatment meted out to her husband who, she said, played a leading role in defeating terrorism in the country.
“Our people are known for being grateful, but I never expected my husband, who fought the worst terrorist outfit in the world, to be treated in this manner,” she said. “I have lost all faith in people after what has been done to my husband.”
Mrs. Fonseka said she has appealed to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to ensure that her husband continued to receive the necessary medication. “The ICRC was very prompt in its response. They are following the case closely. They asked whether I was able to give my husband the medicines.”
|The room General Sarath Fonseka was using at the time of his arrest. A military police officer’s name-tag lies on the floor.
She said she had also appealed to the ICRC and President Mahinda Rajapaksa to allow General Fonseka’s doctor, who is familiar with the General’s medical history, to examine him.
“My husband needs constant medical supervision and monitoring,” she said. “There are bits of shrapnel still in his body, some of it near his heart, from the three attempts made on his life. Dr. Sanjeewa Munasinghe has been treating him, and we would like him to attend to my husband.”
On Friday evening, Army Headquarters issued a statement saying Army Commander, Lt. General Jagath Jayasuriya, had instructed Major General (Dr.) Munasinghe, Medical Advisor at the Military Hospital, to make himself available after working hours, should General Fonseka or his wife require his assistance.
According to military spokesman Major General Prasad Samarasinghe, a special medical team from the Military Hospital is on call round the clock for General Fonseka.
Mrs. Anoma Fonseka said she has appealed to women’s groups to continue their campaigns to seek the release of General Sarath Fonseka, as well as 42 other persons, including former military personnel, who were taken into custody following General Fonseka’s arrest.
A group of women’s organisations will hold a Bodhi Pooja today at a temple in Colombo. This will be followed by other religious activities, as well as a protest campaign.“We are appealing to women’s groups because it is the women who have been the worst affected by the government’s actions,” Mrs. Fonseka said.
Meanwhile, street protests continue as members of the public call for General Fonseka’s release. There was a demonstration in Puttalam yesterday afternoon, and on Friday two separate protests took place in Kurunegala and Anuradhapura. It was reported that at least five persons were injured when stones were thrown during the Anuradhapura protest.