Foreign Relations, Politics and Governance, War Crimes

General Fonseka and the interview

Over the last couple of days there has been a significant amount of discussion back and forth about General Fonseka and the Department of Homeland Security interview. However, nobody seems to have asked nor answered the following simple questions;

1. General Sarath Fonseka is said to have been invited to the interview, implying that he can decline to attend as well. Is this correct?

2. The Government of Sri Lanka is livid with the United States, but the Government can simply instruct General Fonseka- a serving public officer- to decline the interview. Would it not be simple and straightforward to issue such instructions? Why has the Government not taken this obvious route?

3. The invitation is from Homeland Security, not US Immigration Services; meaning it has nothing to do with retaining Sarath Fonseka’s Green Card. So he stands to lose nothing in respect of his resident status, if he declines. Correct?

4. Is it known whether General Fonseka or the Department of Homeland Security initiated contact in the first place?

Perhaps the relevant interlocutors and other knowledgeable parties might be able to clarify the issue by answering the above questions.

  • Amara
  • Observer

    lol why the hell does he have to give any interview? why would he?

  • Sinhala_Voice

    Sarath Fonseka , the Chief of Defence Staff DOES NOT have to answer to another country’s officers under any circumstances.

    HE HAS REFUSED. Latest news. This is the right thing for him to do.

  • erm, green card please sir

    Actually, SF is a green card holder. so if he wants to keep all his privileges in the US he is answerable to their government. Just as GoSL can question a blogger for posting some crappy comment on his website; the US can question a green card holder who has recently been implicated in war crimes in an official US report.

    According to the US state department he might have broken international laws. Even though most of sinhalese sri lanka seems to think this is not true, and the government are fantastic and wonderful for all the things that we still don’t know they did in the war zone where they didn’t allow anyone into; not everyone else agrees. Its fine if SF wants to sit tight in colombo and enjoy the rewards of serving the GoSL – but he shouldn’t be swanning about on shopping trips to the US then.

    If he wants to keep his green card and visit the US as he pleases, he should be answerable to the US. If GoSL’s very selective interpretation of international law and what a war crime is doesn’t fit with another country, then fine – GoSL people shouldn’t visit those countries which disagree with them or seek privileges from them.

    If SF had any real dignity he should renounce his green card. And Gota should give up his American Citizenship if he doesn’t like the US too. The US has every right in the world to release a report saying that one of it’s own citizens has committed war crimes. Just as the GoSL seems to think it has every right in the world to lock up every third journalist who honestly speaks their mind.

    I think it is very telling that most of Sri Lanka – which is suffering under the weight of unemployment and a cumbling economy, high food prices, etc are happy to jump up and protect the rights of these over-privileged dictators who are waltzing about spending our tax money on foreign trips, with their nice cars and big houses at home, and keeping their foreign nationalities – why do they want to be citizens/green card holder of other countries?; because when sri lanka tanks, they can leave the sinking ship and let the plebeians that threw their bodies down for them behind.

    We really do have a stupid serf-landowner loyalty to the regime in this country.

  • vivek

    On point 3 – shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks, George W. Bush created the Department of Homeland Security and merged a bunch of different departments into it, including Citizenship & Immigration Services.

  • Observer

    If the State Department won’t question US Tamil citizens who funded LTTE which is implicated in the same report then Gen Fonseka can by all means refuse.

  • Observer

    AMY GOODMAN: And finally, Philip Alston, back on the issue of the drone attacks that you have taken on, what kind of information has the Obama administration given to you? What have you asked for? What’s your dialogue with him?

    PHILIP ALSTON: Well, I’ve been having a dialogue both with the Bush and the Obama administrations. The biggest problem that I face, but it’s not one that is of great interest to you, is a technical legal one, where the administration continues to say that these are matters of armed conflict, therefore human rights investigators have no role. In other words, their suggestion is that the UN Human Rights Council should not be looking at what the US is doing in what used to be called the war on terror.

    The problem with that is that that would take off the UN Human Rights Council’s agenda about 90 percent of the cases that it’s dealing with. The Gaza report by Goldstone, what’s going on in the Congo, what happened in Sri Lanka—all these issues would be suddenly off the agenda if the US position was accepted. Fortunately, no one has accepted it, but the US continues to insist. And for that reason, they say, “So we’re not going to give you any information.”

    AMY GOODMAN: So, you have worked with the Bush administration and the Obama administration. Do you feel a difference?

    PHILIP ALSTON: On this particular issue, no.

    Yeah so US has to accept the line Sri Lanka tows. Gen Fonseka has nothing to add. Thank you.

  • myil selvan

    General Fonseka is answerable to the U.S!
    Why? Simply because he applied for a U.S. Green Card!
    The U.S. refusing probing in Afghanistan cannot be compared to Gen.Fonseka issue.
    Gen. Fonseka wanted U.S. Green Card, then he must also be answerable to the U.S. government.
    When did Gen.Fonseka apply for U.S. Green Card? I believe in 2006.
    Gen.Fonseka applied for green card while the war was in progress. Why?
    What kind of Army Commander leads his army in a war but at the same time apply for foreign permanent residency?
    Is this what you call patriotism??????
    Gen. Fonseka answer all questions or don’t go to the U.S.A. Thank you.

  • aadhavan

    Observer, a little learning is a dangerous thing. When the US says conduct of war issues should be off the table as far as the UN HRC is concerned, it doesn’t mean that they think the the laws of war should fall into abeyance. To the contrary, it means that conduct of war issues can be prosecuted through a war crimes probe, just not made the subject of a human rights inquiry. It’s the classical IHL v HR problem. It is, as Alston says, a technical one, and isn’t one that supports a pro-impunity position. Don’t get too excited.

  • Observer

    aadhavan, i don’t think you can be a judge of the extent of my learning. anyway technically he’s not required to answer to the dept. of homeland security.
    i believe gen fonseka’s daughters live and study in the us. so is it unfair for the man to make arrangements to be with them when ever he wishes to do so? i think not. far as im concerned most of the passionate tamil diaspora doesn’t fall into the patriotic category either. shouting from overseas. convenient.
    It’s about bullying the little people isn’t it? When Russian, Chineese officials visit US they are only too happy to be cordial while at the same time whining about HR issues. Say no to double standards! These are all shenanigans motivated by the Tamil lobbyists. That’s the shame.

  • Observer

    Phillip Alston says in his own words THAT according to United States arguments Sri Lanka will be off the agenda as well! So aadhavan please.. I think I’ll stick to my little bit of dangerous learning.. lol I can take a risky guess here as to who’d be a more qualified person.

  • Observer

    myil selvan do keep in mind that this is a man who nearly got blown up into pieces, got sent to singapore to be put together again, possibly still wearing a metal plate on his stomach to cover his internal organs. yet he came back and fearlessly led the armed forces towards a crushing victory. do u still want to question his patriotism? in my view he can get citizenship in mars but facts don’t change.

  • aadhavan

    Phillip Alston says in his own words THAT according to United States arguments Sri Lanka will be off the agenda as well! – true, off the HRC Agenda. Not a war crimes agenda. Read further up in the same sentence you quoted.

  • Observer

    Where do you think war crimes agenda starts? Oh dear..