Sarath Fonseka speaks to the Daily Mirror, after his release from prison, about the political situation in the country
Q: Do you feel that President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa were directly responsible for what you faced over the past two and a half years?
That was the impression we had from the very beginning; when the military came and dragged me away and abducted me. I am a hundred percent certain that they did that with the blessings of the president, and my incarceration, that court sentence was also signed by the president and he appointed that court. Also there were certain comments that the secretary defence made at that time; openly to the international media. There was nobody else who was shouting around like that, so obviously I think they were responsible. These things never happen in a normal legal procedure; these things happened due to the abuse of power of the military, the government, and the attorney general’s department
Q: If you think they were directly responsible, then how do you feel towards them?
I mean I can’t waste my time thinking about them in the future; I have a greater job and a greater agenda. I was subjected to this hatred, revenge and injustice—with their blessings. But I leave it to the people of this country to rectify that and to do the justice that is due to me.
I feel sorry for the two of them, because I always expect them to act as those who are holding high office in this country to maintain some dignity and behave like good statesman.
From my part I have forgiven them and I am not going to do anything against them other than moving forward with my political agenda. The injustice done to me is an injustice to democracy and the people of this country.
Q: You withdrew the appeals, therefore at this moment the convictions against you still stand and therefore are legal, this would seem like an admittance of your guilty.
There is a legal argument and our lawyers are still working those out. During the discussions with Tiran Alles he too noted that there was this area that needed to be sorted out. But the immediate requirement was for me to come out and look after the interest of the people. Because if I spent another five or six years in jail; I would not die or lose out, but we would be missing out on a significant time period in which I could serve the people. It is after considering all these issues, that we came to the decision that this was the right decision.
Further with regards to that Court judgment, the president has not signed the conviction he has only signed the sentence, therefore there is a legal loophole there too and our lawyers are looking into that.
Q: Because you have served a prison term of more than six months you cannot hold office or vote at an election. How will this impact your political agenda? How will you make concrete changes without being in an elected office?
I don’t think that you need to be in office to make a difference. If you look at people like Gandhi in India, he created a huge impact on the politics of the country. It is not very important for me to be in parliament or the president of the country—I can still be the leader of a political party, speak on stage; I can criticize the government and tell the people what is going on in the country.
At the same time when they wanted to keep me for 30 years I came out in two and a half years, if they want to deprive me of this privilege of voting and contesting for seven years—I will ensure that it does not happen, in their favour, but in my favour.
Q:How has your time in prison changed you?
The time in prison helped me to mature in certain ways, but I have the same spirit and morale. Now I am able to better understand politicians and the sentiments of the people. If I had won that election I would have gone from the military hierarchy straight to the presidency, but now I think I have become a more suitable man for the people.
Q:What is your view of the present government and the president, is it still the formidable force that defeated you in 2010 or do you think its strength is waning?
They have basically started to crack. In 2010 they had the euphoria of winning the war and they have continued with that, but little by little that steam is dying down and the more they dance around the more it is evaporating. Then the other problems of the people start to surface; injustice, violations of human rights, hunger and the weak economy.
Some people with a little bit of brain have realized that, especially those sitting in the front rows of the parliament—I know they have realised it one hundred per cent. However they don’t want to show that they have realised this. Therefore in future we will see the outcome of these.
Of course they are also being intimidated, they are being held under tight screws. Not just me, even they are in a prison. I think I had more freedom than them; I had the freedom to talk better than them. They don’t talk, they don’t see; you can categorize them any way you want.