25 April, 2019

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WikiLeaks: “I Haven’t Had An Easy Time With Rajapaksa Brothers” – Mahinda Samarasinghe

Sri Lanka’s Mahinda Samarasinghe before a special session of the Human Rights Council. Photo by Jean-Marc Ferre/United Nations

By Colombo Telegraph

“Ambassador met with Minister of Disaster Relief and Human Rights Mahinda Samarasinghe January 30 to share with him a list of suggested actions the Government could take to address the human rights situation. The deeply frustrated Minister (strictly protect throughout) expressed concern that the President and his two brothers have rendered his human rights and humanitarian access efforts ineffective and that he would not sacrifice his political career to become ‘part of a white wash’ for the Government of Sri Lanka’s (GSL) recent human rights violations.Ambassador invited the Minister to participate in a press conference with several other heads of mission to express support for the good work that NGOs do for the citizens of Sri Lanka and counter the recent negative publicity international NGOs have been subject to. Minister Samarasinghe agreed, and asked that Ambassador also take his humanitarian message directly to President Rajapaksa.” the US Embassy Colombo informed Washington.

The Colombo Telegraph found the related leaked cable from the WikiLeaks database. The cable is classified as “CONFIDENTIAL” and written by the Ambassador Robert O. Blake on January 30, 2007.

Ambassador Blake wrote “Ambassador met with Minister of Disaster Relief and Human Rights Mahinda Samarasinghe January 30 to share with him a list of requests from non-governmental organizations regarding access and the ability to work in Sri Lanka.”

“After reading the list, Samarasinghe noted that he had ‘been working on the same issues’ but felt ineffective against the influence of the President’s brothers, Defense Secretary Gothabaya Rajapaksa and Presidential Advisor Basil Rajapaksa, both of whom have taken a hard line view toward human rights. Samarasinghe agreed with the Ambassador that the GSL would face increased international criticism and pressure to address the human rights record in 2007. He remarked that President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his brothers ‘must stop the rhetoric and start delivering. There doesn’t seem to be a feeling of urgency among the President and his brothers of the need to take action against what is happening. I’m very concerned.’” Blake further wrote.

Under the subheading “Eloquence and Damage Control” the ambassador wrote “Minister Samarasinghe lamented that he had been appointed ‘for damage control’ and to add credibility to the GSL’s human rights efforts, but lacked true effectiveness. ‘There is no point in sitting here calling myself the human rights minister when I can’t go beyond the words. I’m able to convince people to give me more time, but time is running out.’ He said that the International Independent Group of Eminent Persons (IIGEP) had ‘come to this level because of my perseverance. But I’m concerned that my name is being associated with the IIGEP process, and that it (the Presidential Commission of Inquiry to investigate human rights abuses) will be a failure, and that I will be a scapegoat.’”

Under the subheading “Not Working for a Whitewash” Blake wrote “Samarasinghe continued: ‘If I don’t see the Commission of Inquiry going the way it should go, I will go public. I can’t be part of a white wash. I have spent 18 years in politics. The President must back me if he wants me to do this. I haven’t had an easy time with his brothers. Some sacrifices will have to be made to better the image of the Government.’ He added: ‘The international community is not satisfied with what is happening in Sri Lanka. We will have no support if we do not arrest the (human rights) situation.’

Placing a comment Blake wrote “Mahinda Samarasinghe is an eloquent and candid interlocutor who understands the problem but feels deeply frustrated that the President and his brothers have thus far failed to heed his repeated entreaties to them to take action to address the grave human rights situation. Samarasinghe also is disappointed that the President failed to reward his loyalty by granting him a more senior Ministry in the recent Ministerial re-shuffle.”

Read the cable below for further details;

VZCZCXRO2526
OO RUEHBI RUEHLMC
DE RUEHLM #0176/01 0301443
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 301443Z JAN 07
FM AMEMBASSY COLOMBO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5274
INFO RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN PRIORITY 0165
RUEHKT/AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU PRIORITY 4860
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 3492
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI PRIORITY 0561
RUEHNY/AMEMBASSY OSLO PRIORITY 3584
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO PRIORITY 2661
RUEHCG/AMCONSUL CHENNAI PRIORITY 7359
RUEHBI/AMCONSUL MUMBAI PRIORITY 5093
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA PRIORITY 1761
RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS PRIORITY
RUEHLMC/MILLENNIUM CHALLENGE CORPORATION PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 COLOMBO 000176 

SIPDIS 

SIPDIS 

DEPARTMENT FOR SCA/INS, MCC FOR S GROFF, D NASSIRY, E BURKE
AND F REID 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/30/2017
TAGS: PGOV PREL PTER PHUM MOPS CE
SUBJECT: SRI LANKA: HUMAN RIGHTS MINISTER VOWS NOT TO TAKE
PART IN "WHITE WASH" 

REF: COLOMBO 134 AND PREVIOUS 

Classified By: Ambassador Robert O. Blake, Jr., for reasons 1.4(b,d). 

1. (C) Summary.  Ambassador met with Minister of Disaster
Relief and Human Rights Mahinda Samarasinghe January 30 to
share with him a list of suggested actions the Government
could take to address the human rights situation.  The deeply
frustrated Minister (strictly protect throughout) expressed
concern that the President and his two brothers have rendered
his human rights and humanitarian access efforts ineffective
and that he would not sacrifice his political career to
become "part of a white wash" for the Government of Sri
Lanka's (GSL) recent human rights violations.  Ambassador
invited the Minister to participate in a press conference
with several other heads of mission to express support for
the good work that NGOs do for the citizens of Sri Lanka and
counter the recent negative publicity international NGOs have
been subject to.  Minister Samarasinghe agreed, and asked
that Ambassador also take his humanitarian message directly
to President Rajapaksa.  End summary. 

Sidelined By Rajapaksa Brothers
------------------------------- 

2. (C) Ambassador met with Minister of Disaster Relief and
Human Rights Mahinda Samarasinghe January 30 to share with
him a list of requests from non-governmental organizations
regarding access and the ability to work in Sri Lanka.
Ambassador explained that the list grew out of a meeting the
Ambassador chaired with all of Sri Lanka's major human rights
organizations.  The Ambassador had asked for their advice of
what steps the Government should take to address the
deteriorating human rights situation.  The Ambassador
presented Samarasinghe the following list, noting that they
were not in any priority order: 

Human rights organizations ask that the GSL: 

--  Implement or amend the 17th Amendment in order to
activate the independent commissions.  Due to their
inactivity, there is little or no accountability by power
holders. 

--   Allow the Constitutional Council to appoint suitable
persons with good track records to the National Human Rights
Commission.  The persons who were appointed to the
Presidential Commission of Inquiry to investigate into
Serious Violations of Human Rights are good examples of
suitable persons. 

--   Activate the MOU with the UNP to cooperate both on good
governance and peace process. 

--   Reactivate the peace process by honoring the Ceasefire
Agreement, and getting the Norwegian facilitators and the
SLMM back into action. 

--  Give humanitarian access to NGOs to conflict areas in the
east and in Jaffna. 

--  Stop anti-NGO propaganda by state media. 

--  Compensate civilian victims of violence equitably.  The
compensation packages extended to the victims of the bus
bombings in the south should be extended to victims of air
and mortar bombing and collateral damage in the north east. 

--  Permit freedom of expression to the media, and freedom of
meeting to political and civic activists to peacefully
canvass their causes without harassment. 

--  Implement a Media Freedom Act. 

COLOMBO 00000176  002 OF 003 

--  Take seriously Ambassador Rock's report of complicity
between GOSL security forces and the Karuna Faction and
address this concern within the military.   Monitor the
actions of the Karuna Faction and provide redress to families
and communities who have had their children abducted. 

--  Investigate immediately human rights abuses, specifically
abductions and extrajudicial killings and take appropriate
measures to prosecute and punish those responsibly.  Ensure
transparency so the public is aware of actions taken to
punish human rights violators. 

--  Implement a fair Freedom of Information Act to reduce
corruption. 

--  Provide safe havens and protection to conflict-affected
populations.  Physically separate disputants to prevent
further violence. 

3.  (C) The Ambassador reiterated that the GSL should expect
to receive severe international criticism for its failure to
take action to address the grave human rights situation.
Ambassador stated that the GSL had made "process progress" on
such matters as the Commission of Inquiry but had not taken
concrete actions such as those listed above.  Taking steps to
implement some or all of these good faith suggestions would
do much to pre-empt such criticism.  A failure to take any
action would result in calls by many in the international
community to deploy international human rights monitors.
After reading the list, Samarasinghe noted that he had "been
working on the same issues" but felt ineffective against the
influence of the President's brothers, Defense Secretary
Gothabaya Rajapaksa and Presidential Advisor Basil Rajapaksa,
both of whom have taken a hard line view toward human rights.
 Samarasinghe agreed with the Ambassador that the GSL would
face increased international criticism and pressure to
address the human rights record in 2007.  He remarked that
President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his brothers "must stop the
rhetoric and start delivering.  There doesn't seem to be a
feeling of urgency among the President and his brothers of
the need to take action against what is happening.  I'm very
concerned." 

Eloquence and Damage Control
---------------------------- 

4. (C) Minister Samarasinghe lamented that he had been
appointed "for damage control" and to add credibility to the
GSL's human rights efforts, but lacked true effectiveness.
"There is no point in sitting here calling myself the human
rights minister when I can't go beyond the words.  I'm able
to convince people to give me more time, but time is running
out."  He said that the International Independent Group of
Eminent Persons (IIGEP) had "come to this level because of my
perseverance.  But I'm concerned that my name is being
associated with the IIGEP process, and that it (the
Presidential Commission of Inquiry to investigate human
rights abuses) will be a failure, and that I will be a
scapegoat." 

5. (C) The Minister contended that his other moves to improve
the infrastructure for accountability had been blocked.  For
instance, he had not been selected to chair a Select
Committee on the 17th Amendment (for the establishment of
independent commissions to monitor the police, judiciary and
human rights) despite having introduced the bill "because
there was a feeling that I would have seen it through."
Instead, Constitutional Affair Minister and committee chair
Dew Gunasekara "says he's finished his work but needs the
President's direction" to publish his findings on the defunct
Constitutional Council, according to Samarasinghe. 

Not Working for a Whitewash
--------------------------- 

COLOMBO 00000176  003 OF 003 

6. (C) Samarasinghe continued: "If I don't see the Commission
of Inquiry going the way it should go, I will go public.  I
can't be part of a white wash.  I have spent 18 years in
politics.  The President must back me if he wants me to do
this.  I haven't had an easy time with his brothers.  Some
sacrifices will have to be made to better the image of the
Government."  He added:  "The international community is not
satisfied with what is happening in Sri Lanka.  We will have
no support if we do not arrest the (human rights) situation." 

Supporting NGOs Publicly
------------------------ 

7. (C) Ambassador expressed concern about the ongoing
campaign of sections of the GSL against non-governmental
organizations and invited the Minister to participate in a
press conference that he and several other heads of mission
planned on February 7 to express support for the good work
that NGOs do for the citizens of Sri Lanka.   The Ambassador
stressed that the press conference would illustrate the
positive work international NGOs are doing around the country
and counter claims that some are supporting the LTTE.  The
Minister agreed that "it is time that a cabinet minister"
stands up for the solid work of NGOs and that he could only
take part in a press conference that promoted such a positive
agenda.   Samarasinghe added that such a public conference
"would help the GSL also.  I think some NGOs are considering
pulling out of Sri Lanka because they don't feel wanted."
He asked that the Ambassador raise these same issues with
President Rajapaksa.  Ambassador undertook to do so. 

Stop the Rhetoric, Deliver
-------------------------- 

8. (C) Comment:  Mahinda Samarasinghe is an eloquent and
candid interlocutor who understands the problem but feels
deeply frustrated that the President and his brothers have
thus far failed to heed his repeated entreaties to them to
take action to address the grave human rights situation.
Samarasinghe also is disappointed that the President failed
to reward his loyalty by granting him a more senior Ministry
in the recent Ministerial re-shuffle.
BLAKE
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Latest comments

  • 0
    0

    Mahinda is still hanging around as a Minister, enjoying all the ministerial perks, and carrying out the false propaganda for the Rajapakse brothers for another 7 years. What a disgrace…But these politicians who swing from one party to the other like monkeys from one tree to the other one are thick skinned. When the Rajapakse ship is sinking in Hambantota boat, all these rats would want to run back to Sri Kotha and the UNP, where Premadasa and family are stoning the party headquarters…

    • 0
      3

      If NOT for Mahinda and Rajapaksa brothers, WAR and LTTE would be still out there! Thank gods we had them to protect our mother land. Of course there are short comings but I would live with them anytime than all these other jokers!

      • 1
        0

        Senarath, why should the people of sri lanka be grateful to the rajapakses or any other political mother-fuckers. It was the politicians who brought the terrorism on sri lanka, we sri lankans be it sinhalese, tamils, muslims or burghers had no quarrel living together; not then and not now.
        we sri lankas are in greater danger now from a megolomaniac and his extended family who is suffocating the people and robbing their wealth with clinical precision. The sooner we get rid of these loin cloth clad criminals from across the benthara ganga, it will be better for all sri lankans; i bet my bottom dollar on this. MR,GR to the electric chair not for war crimes but for crimes against humanity ‘post-war’.

  • 1
    0

    WOW WOW, another traitor!! :) :) :) :) This is the man who send to defend Sri Lanka. lol
    “The deeply frustrated Minister (strictly protect throughout) expressed concern that the President and his two brothers have rendered his human rights and humanitarian access efforts ineffective and that he would not sacrifice his political career to become ‘part of a white wash’ for the Government of Sri Lanka’s (GSL) recent human rights violations.”

  • 0
    0

    Oh dear dear ” deeply frustrated”

  • 0
    0

    I knew from the beginning no one can work with this Medamulana clans (Rajapaksas).

    • 0
      0

      Are you referring to the bandit queen,CBK?Don’t worry Jim.Ranil Wickramasinghe has learned the art of living with the Madamulana clan.Result being a permanent president and a permanent leader of the opposition.

  • 0
    0

    Exactly Max you are right, but I hate the UNP ,UPFA & JVP I dont like a single politician, I am for change of Party politics.

    • 0
      0

      You’d better add the TNA as well.I quite agree when you say that you hate party politics.But the thing is that if either me or you or both enter party politics,wouldn’t sing that tune.With top salaries,duty free permits,pension after five years,foreign jaunts(guaranteed twice an year holiday to Geneva,thanks to the Tamil diaspora,Rs25 buffet+commissions+++you would love it.In fact no race discrimination here.That’s where Sinhalese,Tamils,Muslims get together.So how can i blame the NGO $$$Kakkas?

      • 0
        0

        Max Silva:
        If ever there was an unmentionable who fitted in to the categories that you are so generous with it is YOU! You are the kind of person who wouldn’t be able to so much as take a look in the mirror because the apparition that would confront you would be beyond (even your warped) belief!

  • 2
    0

    There is a saying in Tamil that if it keeps company with a pig a calf will eat shit

    • 0
      0

      Well said, Anu.

      So many of these pandankarayas qualify for application of that old Tamil saying though I would suggest that their diet included that effluent even before they discovered the people to whose posteriors they have attached their probosces!

  • 0
    0

    Can you name a single person other than his family and his goons having good time with “The Excellency” Rajapakshe?…But when a comment such as this comes from one of his goons it means things becoming unbearable to a common man…Good luck Sinhalese its your turn to take the brunt..

  • 0
    0

    Its seem like lot of Tamils have to say a lot of sayings now that the terrorism that they worshiped has been wiped out. Stupid people!

  • 0
    0

    It is now very clear to everyone that if not for the Rajapaksa brothers, ceasefire would have been activated again, LTTE would be still killing people and Prabhakaran still celebrating hero’s day in november!!! Lucky we had Mahinda and rajapaksa brothers to get rid of terrorism. All these ministers are frustrated because they couldn’t do everything they wanted as in the past. There may be short coming of mahinda and his brothers, but I would always stick with them for the sake of my mother land!!!!

    • 0
      0

      Best thing that happened to the country was getting rid of that criminal prabhakaran.

  • 0
    0

    Minister Samarasinghe’s long speech at the UNHRC was nauseatingly untruthful,as he himself knew – and,as now revealed by the above WikilLeaks “leak”.
    It was quite a performance under the stress of knowing that he was speaking b.s as per direction of Mahinda Rajapakse.
    My sympathies are with him.
    We can rest assurred that nothing will happen as a result of the UNHRC vote “against” sri lanka,for a very long time.There will be prevarication and whitewashing of the ongoing human rights situation under the militarised regime which oppresses not only tamils,but also the sinhalese – the chief object of which will be the prolongation of the Military cum Family Junta to enable MR to win the next presidential election.

  • 0
    0

    The biggest mistake MR did was appointing this guy to head the delegation. The team should have been headed by Dayan with Tamara and external affairs ministry guiding them the voting would have been different.

  • 0
    0

    Many foxes grow gray but few grow good.
    Benjamin Franklin

  • 0
    0

    We don’t know if Samarasinghe said all that. It is only wikileaks leak, but any one could have written it; it is part of the game played by people sent out overseas to work. They must justify their breadline and so would write anything that comes to their minds. Just fill something and file it as facts, whereas it may be a lot of hogwash. Well, its leaking could also be arranged by the authority to make the information look genuine. The leak has achieved killing 2 birds with one stone: Samarasinghe toppled off his pedestal, and put Rajapaksha brothers on the firing line without a judge and jury present.

  • 0
    0

    LTTE says SLG committed war crimes. SLG denies it and blame LTTE for war crimes.
    Only an independent inquary can find the truth.
    I support an impartial, independent intenational inquiry into the allegation and either to clear the name or if any one has committed any war crimes to punish them and clear the name of Sri Lanka.

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