Anglican Bishop expresses concern on Fonseka arrest

Rt. Rev. Duleep de Chickera, Bishop of Colombo, has in a statement issued last week, expressed concern over the arrest of General (Rtd.) Sarath Fonseka and called for clear information on this matter.

``The people’s right to clear information on such a serious matter regarding such a prominent personality should not be withheld,’’ he said in this statement.

The full text is as follows:

``The manner of the arrest and detention of General Sarath Fonseka, has disturbed all Sri Lankans who value dignity and order in public affairs. The world has also expressed concern over these happenings and their implications on the rights of individual citizens and the democratic integrity of our beloved Sri Lanka.

``Whatever opinion people may have of General Fonseka, militarily or politically, all fair minded Sri Lankans are disappointed with the way a highly rated former Army Commander and his associates have been treated. It is a blot on the democratic, cultural and religious traditions and image of our country.

``The people are also confused with the several and even conflicting reasons given for this action. If there have been violations of the military code, it must be left to the Military to handle professionally. If he was arrested for planning a coup and the assassination of the President, which are very grave charges, the people should know the basis of this allegation. In either case he should be entitled to his rights, including appropriate medical care and the right to defend himself with due access to lawyers and legal advisers.

``In the event that the prevailing confusion is not clarified and a transparent judicial process is not set in place, this action is likely to be interpreted as an attempt to humiliate a presidential candidate who fought a hard campaign, or an attempt to obstruct him from campaigning and participating at the forthcoming general election; or both. The people’s right to clear information on such a serious matter regarding such a prominent personality should not be withheld.

``When the reasons for the arrest and detention are clarified, the people will then be able to assess the information, judge the seriousness of the issue and draw their own conclusions.’’

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