Sri Lankan Army General Fonseka's men sheltering in Nepal, govt denies asylum

Gen. Fonseka’s men sheltering in Nepal, govt denies asylum



A group of Sri Lankan nationals who worked closely with former Gen. and Commander of Sri Lankan Army Sarath Fonseka during Sri Lanka's 2010 presidential and general elections have been seeking asylum in Nepal for the last few months. The government, however, has refused to accept their applications.


The Sri Lankan citizens, who are currently living semi-underground in Kathmandu for their illegal migration status, told the Post that they fled their country along with their families and sneaked into Nepal in droves in different times during the second half of the last year. They said they fled to save their lives from 'repressive' regime of President Mahinda Rajapaksa who beat Fonseka in the 2010 presidential elections.


“We are just seeking a secure place to live in and express our feeling until a point in future when we can go back and speak out,” said Coordinator of the “Politically Affected Families of Gen. Fonseka in NepalSantha Karunaratne, who worked as All Island Coordinator for Fonseka's election campaign during 2010 presidential and general elections. “Following the elections, many people had to flee the country when the police started cracking down upon those who they thought were anti-establishment.”


The Sri Lankans are seeking “political refugees” status in Nepal, which however, has not denied by the government. Government officials said they could be arrested anytime.

“We are under constant fear and trepidation as the Sri Lanka government has been putting pressure on the Nepal Police to arrest them and hand over to Sri Lanka. We have escaped some of such attempts,” said one of the numbers in the group.


The asylum seekers' documents showed they have a case pending at the court in Sri Lanka where they were tried under a 'stringent' terrorist act and their return to Sri Lanka at this time, as they said, would mean a life term or death sentence to all of them in a “false charge of supporting Fonseka in hatching a plot to illegally overthrow the current regime by means of violence.”


The asylum seekers entered Nepal via the open Nepal-India border in the south as they thought that Nepal was the 'easiest' place to receive asylum. Out of the 14 who were staying together in Nepal reportedly under “unofficial protection” of UNHCR for the last few months, one died of heart attack, one has managed to fly to Canada and five other have disappeared.


“It's getting difficult to keep my fellow citizen's faith alive as some of us are showing suicidal tendency,” said Karunaratne. The refugee leader said his group would soon make a second request to the government seeking asylum in Nepal. UN sources confirmed that the asylum seekers get unofficial protection but because of their illegal status they would not be called refugees unless the government approves them.


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