Opposition protests demanding release of jailed Army Commander

Wednesday, 30 November 2011 01:53 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

The major opposition party of Sri Lanka United National Party (UNP) yesterday held a massive demonstration and a rally in the Sri Lankan capital Colombo against the government to demand the release of jailed former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka.

Thousands of UNP activists and members of other associations that joined the agitation demanded the government to release of 2010 Presidential candidate and former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka from jail and to protect Sinhala businesses by revoking the recently enacted “Revival of Underperforming Enterprises and Underutilized Assets Act”.

The activists also protested the 2012 budget, which they say not providing any relief to the country’s poor.

Protesters marched from four different places in the city to the Hyde Park where the rally was held. UNP Deputy Leader Sajith Premadasa was seen leading a march from Colombo Vihara Maha Devi Park towards Hyde Park.

UNP leader Ranil Wickremasinghe addressing the rally said that an agitation similar to Arab world is needed in Sri Lanka and in addition an international campaign was necessary to rise against the government.

The activists later marched to Lipton Circus and held a protest campaign there.

The opposition accuses the government of politically victimizing the former Army Commander for doing politics with the opposition during last year’s presidential election campaign.

Fonseka, who contested the presidential elections in 2010 as the common opposition candidate, was just given a three-year prison term for accusing the country’s Defence Secretary of ordering to kill the Tamil Tigers surrendering to the Army during the last stages of the war. He was already serving a 30-month prison sentence given by a court martial.

Several minor opposition parties including the Democratic People’s Front, New Socialist Party, New Sihala Urumaya and Ruhunu Janatha Party participated in the protest.  However, Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), the main ally of the Democratic National Party led by Fonseka, declined an invitation from the UNP to join the protest.