Sri Lanka on Monday categorically urged the United States to “desist from any endeavour to interview” its Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Sarath Fonseka, currently on a private visit to the U.S., in connection with the alleged human rights violations in the course of the Eelam War IV between the security forces and the LTTE.
Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama told reporters at a specially convened news conference here that he met U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka Patricia Butenis to convey the message and added that Sri Lankan Ambassador to the U.S. Jaliya Wickramasuriya had also made similar representations to the State Department in Washington DC.
Mr. Bogollagama confirmed that on October 28 an attorney of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) telephoned General Fonseka to inform him that the department had fixed an interview with him on November 4 in Oklahoma City and the objective of the interview was to use him “as a source against human rights violations done by Secretary/Defence”.
Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa is the younger brother of President Mahinda Rajapaksa and is a U.S. citizen. Mr. Gotabhaya was the Defence Secretary and General Fonseka, a U.S. Green Card holder, was the Army chief throughout Eelam War IV.
“I have invited you to meet with me this afternoon, to emphasise in my capacity of Foreign Minister that the President and the government of Sri Lanka stand firmly behind the Office of the CDS of Sri Lanka. We will not allow that high post to be denigrated or made vulnerable,” said the Minister.
Mr. Bogollagama maintained that Mr. Gotabhaya’s duties required his dealing with a situation of a grave onslaught by the LTTE that threatened the integrity of Sri Lanka and the allegations levelled against the Defence Secretary affected the vital interests of the government of Sri Lanka.
In response to a question, Mr. Bogollagama said the Sri Lankan Defence Secretary had already been questioned by U.S. Immigration authorities on his arrival in the U.S. as a member of the Sri Lankan delegation for the U.N. General Assembly in the last week of September.
The desire of the U.S. Homeland Security to quiz General Fonseka appears to be a follow-up to a 68-page report from the U.S. Department of State to the Congress on October 22 detailing allegations of “atrocities” by both the military and LTTE cadres during the final stages of the war.