Killing is his second nature, the trigger-happy General
A retired Army officer lamented that killing was the second nature of the former Army Commander. He said that he had worked with him as well as under him for nearly 20 years.
As the Army officer wished to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal, his name is withheld.
This officer narrated to Asian Tribune, two incidents he witnessed while in service, where the former Army Commander slaughtered innocent Tamil civilians.
He told me of the 1985 incident where he was responsible for the death of nearly 75 civilians. He said this incident was well documented by Amnesty International.
As he began to narrate the incident, it dawned on me that it was the very same incident where I miraculously escaped death.
Also he narrated the story of the 1990 Trivida Balaya Operation,” (Rescue of Jaffna Fort).
The first was the story of how very brutally Tamil civilians were killed and how M.K.Sivajilingham, the TNA parliamentarians and the Independent Tamil Presidential candidate as well me, the writer of this column, miraculously survived from the jaws of death, at the hands of a killer maniac in 1985.
On that fateful day, I was at the Valvetiturai Urani hospital paying a visit to a friend of mine who was warded in that hospital. After the hospital visit, I was on my way to my parent’s house located at Arthiady, Point Pedro.
My car was driven by Siva, a young man from Poovarasankulam, Vavuniya, but he was living in Chunnakam. He started driving on the VVT – Point Pedro main road and we would have hardly traveled 400 meters on the main road, when we saw people started running helter skelter towards the Hospital.
My driver felt that there was something wrong, stopped the car on the wayside and inquired from the fleeing people, the reason for their running in panic.
They said that the army moved from the Valvetiturai camp and has rounded up dozens of youths and herded them toward the sea beach in front of the VVT Cemetery. They said that they have seen a dozen of them, their hands tied behind and being beaten and threatened by the Army Major, who was commanding the troops which was on a round-up, search and arrest operation.
My driver Siva thought for a moment and said that we can manage to flee by taking another route, without coming in contact with the Army soldiers, who were waiting in the main road to search and arrest whoever passes through the VVT - Point Pedro main Road.
As he turned the old Somerset car and entered into a lane, we heard shots being fired.
We raced through the lane and at last managed to reach Vathiry, Nelliady and finally to my house in Arthiady.
When I reached my house, I came to know that a Major was killed by the LTTE terrorists on the same day at Thickkam, Karaveddy and the Army has moved out of the camp from Valvetiturai to take revenge on the innocent civilians.
It was on 9 May 1985; LTTE men managed to kill Major Srimal Mendis, a handsome officer as described by his colleagues and was in his early 30s.
Following the killing of the Major Srimal Mendis of the Gemunu Watch, the Sinha Regiment 1 commanded by Major Fonseka moved out of the Camp and were on a rounding up and search operation.
According to Amnesty International “About 75 civilians, mostly young men but also reportedly including women and children, were reportedly killed by army personnel on 9 May 1985 in and around Valvettiturai, allegedly in retaliation for the alleged killing by Tamil extremists of an army major the same day at Karaveddi.
According to reports received by Amnesty International, about 40 people were taken away from Udupiddy, Polikandy and Valvettiturai and killed at two places near Valvettiturai Hospital. “In one incident, at the Bathing Ghat, 12 young men were reported to have been lined up, their hands tied behind their back and shot at point blank range. In the other incident, twenty five young men allegedly had their arms tied, were taken to the Community Centre Reading Room, and were then subsequently killed in an explosion.”
This report clearly indicates that I narrowly escaped death at the hands of Major Sarath Fonseka.
There was another person, like me who survived from death. It was no one else other than the TNA Member of Parliament M.K.Sivajilingham.
Sivajilingham’s house was near the Amman Kovil, Valvetiturai, located on the Kankesanthurai Road. He told Asian Tribune that when the army started rounding up and was on a search operation, he fled to the area near the Urani hospital. While hiding in that area he saw, dozen young men who were herded from the area and were asked to kneel down in the road opposite to VVT Cemetery and some youths were taken near beach, their hands tied behind and were asked to kneel down facing the sea.
Then an Army officer suddenly started firing at the youths who were facing the beach at the point blank range and he saw the youths collapsing down and dying.
Sivajilingham said immediately he started fleeing from the spot. He said that he miraculously survived.
Amnesty International reported that 25 youths hands were tied and forced into the Polikandy community centre and Major Fonseka ordered the troops to set fire to the community centre.
As the army men were a little hesitant, Fonseka charged the building with three or four grenades, and suddenly on the force of the explosion the building collapsed and everyone inside the building was killed.
Majority of them killed were unable to be identified. Body parts were scattered all over.
Sivajilingham describing the gory sight told the Asian Tribune, that the dead Tamil youth’s bodies were removed in bullock carts and tractors to the hospital at Urani. He said people picked up the body parts - hands, legs, heads, and torsos and transported them to the hospital. No one was alive at that explosion.
Subsequently the Chemmean Community Centre still preserve the destroyed parts of Community centre building and they have built a new two storey building now. In a booklet they have published they given the names of nine youths who were killed in the incident and whose bodies they were able to identify.
People in the area, when contacted our Jaffna Reporter A.N.S. Thiruchelvam who helped me in sending the photos of the community centre told that they were unable to identify others.
Furthermore, Asian Tribune learnt that Major Sarath Fonseka was officially attached to the Minneriya Training Centre, but he was called for special duty in Jaffna at that time.
Accordingly he was involved in the Operation Vadamaradchy, which is also called Operation Liberation in the early part of 1987.
In that operation three force commanders Brigadier Kobbekaduwa, Colonel Wimalaratne and Brigadier Jerry De Silva were involved.
Again Major Sarath Fonseka of the SR1 played a leading role in the arrest and killing of civilians.
A Captain who was with him at that time of the Operation said that Killing was the second nature of Sarath Fonseka, a trigger-happy.
In 1990 when he became a Lt. Colonel, Sarath Fonseka participated in the “Operation Trivida Balaya” (Rescue of Jaffna Fort).
That was an operation to rescue the besieged armed forces men in the Jaffna Fort. According to an assistant who participated in the operation said that Sarath Fonseka and his men took the coastal route off Palaly by a navy ship and when arrived at Karainagar, they attacked the Tigers who were at the Cey-Nor Jetty.
Once the Tigers were chased out from Karainagar, Sarath Fonseka’s assistant, a Captain told that trigger-happy Fonseka went on a shooting spree, killing the Tamil civilians whoever who came by.
Not only that, the captain said Fonseka used to say that Tamils were good for target shooting practice and merrily would shot and kill about a dozen Tamil civilians just like that, for no reason at all.
He said from Karainagar they took the sea route and landed in Kayts. In Kayts, Fonseka started setting on fire hundreds of houses in the area.
At one point of time he chased an old couple inside a house and set fire to the house. The assistant said they managed to rescue the old couple as Sarath Fonseka moved away from the spot. He further said at Mandativu he shot and killed more than 12 innocent civilians.
These three incidents amply reveal the killer instinct of Sarath Fonseka.
Sarath Fonseka used to say that this country belonged to the Sinhalese, and the Tamils and Muslims were at their mercy, according the Captain.
Here is a quote from his speech made on September 23, 2008:
"I strongly believe that this country belongs to the Sinhalese but there are minority communities and we treat them like our people...We being the majority of the country, 75%, we will never give in and we have the right to protect this country...We are also a strong nation ... They (the minorities) can live in this country with us. But they must not try to, under the pretext of being a minority, demand undue things…”.
“This is the greatest insult ever heaped on the Tamils. I wrote an article condemning this statement and send it to a Tamil news daily. I don’t know whether it was published or not by that Tamil paper, TNA parliamentarian. Thangeswary Kathiraman said.
Earlier in an interview with Asian Tribune Thangeswary Kathiraman, a TNA Member of Parliament from the Batticaloa district said that “No true Tamil would ever vote for Sarath Fonseka.
She further said, “Tamils and Muslims in this country should have to be treated as stakeholders of this country and treated with due dignity and honor. We are not at the mercy of the Sinhalese for our existence and survival in our country.
The chauvinistic mindset of Sarah Fonseka is condemnable and no true Tamil who is born to a Tamil father and mother would ever vote for Sarath Fonseka who disgraced our existence and ethnicity in this country.”
- Asian Tribune -