24 April, 2019

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WikiLeaks: GSL Continued To Detain Civilians – ‘GSL Might View Doing So As Electorally Favorable’ – JVP To US

“Herath said that the IDPs were a major issue in Sri Lanka and that the GSL’s claim that it was waiting to release IDPs because of the need to demine was false. He said that the government could and should release more IDPs and that the government’s continued detention of civilians was likely to lead to problems in the future.” the US Embassy Colombo informed Washington. 

Vijitha Herath

The Colombo Telegraph found the related leaked cable from the WikiLeaks database. The ‘confidential’ cable recounts the details of a meeting the US Embassy had with the JVP MP Vijitha Herath. The cable was written on November 06, 2009  by the US Ambassador to Colombo, Patricia A. Butenis.

The ambassador wrote; “In response to PolOff’s question why the GSL continued to detain civilians in the camps, Herath suggested that the GSL might view doing so as electorally favorable, or it could be that the GSL was just not focused on releasing IDPs. More generally, he said that people were upset that peace had not changed the security situation, adding that citizens were fed up with continued road blocks and security checks, which the JVP viewed as impediments to democracy.”

Read the cable below for further details;

VZCZCXRO0717
OO RUEHAG RUEHROV RUEHSL RUEHSR
DE RUEHLM #1016/01 3100609
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 060609Z NOV 09
FM AMEMBASSY COLOMBO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0733
INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHKA/AMEMBASSY DHAKA PRIORITY 2019
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD PRIORITY 9055
RUEHKT/AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU PRIORITY 7293
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 5202
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI PRIORITY 3448
RUEHNY/AMEMBASSY OSLO PRIORITY 5154
RUEHOT/AMEMBASSY OTTAWA PRIORITY 0027
RUEHSM/AMEMBASSY STOCKHOLM PRIORITY 0689
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO PRIORITY 4265
RUEHCG/AMCONSUL CHENNAI PRIORITY 9618
RUEHBI/AMCONSUL MUMBAI PRIORITY 6912
RUEHON/AMCONSUL TORONTO PRIORITY 0001
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA PRIORITY 3812
RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI PRIORITY
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 COLOMBO 001016 

SIPDIS 

DEPARTMENT FOR SCA/INSB 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/05/2019
TAGS: PGOV PREL PREF PHUM PTER EAID MOPS CE
SUBJECT: JVP: PLAYING IT CLOSE TO THE CHEST--FOR NOW 

REF: COLOMBO 1006 

COLOMBO 00001016  001.2 OF 002 

Classified By: Ambassador Patricia A. Butenis.  REASONS: 1.4 (B, D) 

¶1. (C) SUMMARY.  In a meeting with PolOff, MP Vijitha Herath
of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP, the People's
Liberation Front) offered guarded comments indicated the
leftist-nationalist party was probably waiting for a more
certain political climate to declare publicly its political
intentions. Herath repeatedly underscored the need to abolish
the Executive Presidency. He cited the economy and IDPs as
central issues for the JVP, issues which he accused the GSL
of largely ignoring. The JVP expressed great concern over
recent rumors of U.S. prosecution for war crimes of Chief of
Defense Staff General Sarath Fonseka, and possibly Defense
Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, which could crush its election
hopes. END SUMMARY. 

ELECTION STRATEGY
--------------- 

¶2. (SBU) Herath told PolOff that the JVP was aiming for a new
political era, which had begun with the recent positive
results from the southern provincial elections. He said he
had noticed a change in the political climate in the past
several weeks. Nonetheless, Herath expressed frustration with
Rajapaksa's refusal to abolish the Executive Presidency,
citing the seventh clause of the UPFA's agreement with the
JVP, reached in the run up to the last presidential election.
Herath said the JVP's main election goal was to defeat
Rajapaksa and do away with the Executive Presidency, which
the JVP viewed as an obstacle to democracy. 

¶3. (C) Herath argued the GSL was singularly focused on
winning the upcoming elections at the expense of key issues
and was disingenuous in its promises to abolish the Executive
Presidency. He said that the JVP had not yet decided on its
candidate, but offered that Fonseka and former Chief Justice
of the Supreme Court Sarath Silva were possibilities.  When
PolOff asked about a formal alliance with the UNP, he
responded that it was not possible, but that an alliance at
an unofficial level was possible: "fighting together, but
marching separately." (NOTE: The JVP-led uprisings against
the then-UNP-led government in the 1970s and 80s and the
government's brutal response, as well as fundamental
ideological differences, probably are the primary factors
keeping them apart. END NOTE.) Herath opined that it was more
advantageous to the JVP to hold parliamentary elections
before Presidential elections. 

IDPs, ECONOMIC GRIPES
--------------------- 

¶4. (SBU) Herath said that the IDPs were a major issue in Sri
Lanka and that the GSL's claim that it was waiting to release
IDPs because of the need to demine was false. He said that
the government could and should release more IDPs and that
the government's continued detention of civilians was likely
to lead to problems in the future. In response to PolOff's
question why the GSL continued to detain civilians in the
camps, Herath suggested that the GSL might view doing so as
electorally favorable, or it could be that the GSL was just
not focused on releasing IDPs. More generally, he said that
people were upset that peace had not changed the security
situation, adding that citizens were fed up with continued
road blocks and security checks, which the JVP viewed as
impediments to democracy. 

¶5. (SBU) Herath pointed to economic problems, including the
increased cost of staples, which most people expected to
decrease after the war, as a sign that the GSL's focus was 

COLOMBO 00001016  002.2 OF 002 

not on the issues that were important to voters. He accused
Central Bank Governor Ajith Cabraal of quoting faulty
statistics to paint a falsely rosy picture of the economy.
The GSL overspent on the war and had not put together an
effective budget, which was why they had not presented one to
Parliament. Herath said that he had just returned from
Batticaloa, where he witnessed the government's inability to
provide promised compensation to civilians displaced from the
war and for land it appropriated during the war. 

FEAR OF U.S. PROSECUTION FOR WAR CRIMES
--------------------------------------- 

¶6. (C) Herath acknowledged that Fonseka--who is widely
believed to be considering running for president--could pull
in a significant number of Sinhala votes, but stressed that
Tamils and Muslims were unlikely to vote for him because of
his past Sinhalese nationalist statements, as well as his
role in the war. Notably, Herath asked PolOff about the
recent report of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
questioning Fonseka. He appeared very concerned and asked
whether the U.S. might not allow Fonseka to return to Sri
Lanka, which would scuttle the JVP's election strategy, in
which case he indicated the JVP was likely to protest in
front of the U.S. Embassy. PolOff explained our position per
official guidance. 

COMMENT
------- 

¶7. (C) In the wake of the United National Party's
announcement of its United National Front alliance and the
Tamil National Alliance's Tamil coalition, the leftist JVP is
waiting for the dust to settle before publicly committing to
an election strategy and choosing its political partners. The
JVP has fought to remain politically relevant after its
traditionally Sinhala-Buddhist nationalist message was
overpowered by President Mahinda Rajapaksa's aggressive
military prosecution and subsequent victory over the LTTE in
May 2009. Rajapaksa managed to weaken the party further when
Rajapaksa loyalists split off to form the National Freedom
Front in May 2008, leaving behind the traditional leftists.
The remaining JVP members have grown increasingly frustrated
with Rajapaksa's refusal to follow through on his promise to
end the Executive Presidency and what they perceive as his
lack of focus on important post-war issues. 

BUTENIS

Related stories to this cable;

WikiLeaks: JVP Expressed Great Concern Over US Prosecution For War Crimes Of Fonseka And Gota

WikiLeaks: Rajapaksa Overpowered JVP’s Sinhala-Buddhist Nationalist Message

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Latest comments

  • 0
    0

    The statement by this JVP man to US Embassy shows what a set of traitors they are. They show the people that they are working in the interest of the country, but secretly working against the country for the money they get from the West.

    No wonder they are rejected by the masses.

    • 0
      0

      What a silly comment.
      Herath was trying to formulate an election strategy to unseat Rajapaksa and his discussions at the US embassy showed his take on Rajapaksa’s lies and deceptions in his attempts to fool everyone. He said nothing that would have damaged the country but only the dirty and devious Rajapaksa. So, stop arselicking Rajapaksa.

      • 0
        0

        So Piranha, arse liking US is better?

  • 0
    0

    Americans poking their noses …. !

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