Colombo Telegraph

WikiLeaks: On Sara’s Case MR Said It’s A Conspiracy Of Western International Actors And Their Local Allies – US

By Colombo Telegraph

 “On September 16, President Rajapaksa called for an investigation to verify a death threat against Paikiasothi Saravanamuttu, or ‘Sara’, Director of the Centre for Policy Alternatives. As mentioned in ref. A, Sara received a letter on August 20, 2009, threatening him with death for his alleged role in pushing the EU to revoke GSP-plus trade concessions for Sri Lanka. At the time he received the threat Sara immediately forwarded a scan of the actual letter and the envelope in which it arrived to a wide range of diplomatic, civil society, and other persons. He contacted top members of the Government of Sri Lanka (GSL) to inform them of the threat and to demand they investigate it and ensure his safety.” the US Embassy Colombo informed Washington.

Dr Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu

A Leaked ‘Confidential’ US diplomatic cable, dated September 18, 2009, updated the Secretary of State regarding the threatening letter received by Dr Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, the Executive Director of the Centre for Policy Alternatives and founder member of the Board of the Sri Lanka Chapter of Transparency International on August 20, 2009. The Colombo Telegraph found the related leaked cable from the WikiLeaks database. The cable is classified and signed by the US Ambassador to Colombo Patricia Butenis.

The ambassador wrote; “A half-page advertisement appeared in the local Daily Mirror on September 16, which condemned the death threat on Sara, explained in detail his actual position on GSP-plus, and defended his reputation. (NOTE: Sara has called for a continuation of GSP-plus along with an improvement by the GSL on its human rights record. END NOTE.) The statement was signed by about 125 prominent persons and human rights advocates in Sri Lanka.”

“Later on September 16, during a Cabinet meeting, the president questioned whether the death threat was real and reportedly called his brother Gotabaya Rajapaksa at the Ministry of Defence to ask him to investigate. Media reports say the president stated that an international conspiracy was clearly at work trying to ruin Sri Lanka,s reputation and that this signed statement could be used against the country. He asked that officials follow up with the signatories to the statement to question them on whether they really believed Sara had been threatened. Sara told Embassy staff that the police came and took a statement from him again today, for the third time, about the threat. Post discretely will contact some others on the list to see whether the police questioned them.” Butenis further wrote.

Placing a comment she wrote; “The president appears to be attacking the veracity of Saravanamuttu and his supporters for domestic political purposes, attempting to portray Sri Lanka as under threat from a conspiracy of Western international actors and their local allies. This appears to contradict a recently inaugurated attempt to boost Sri Lanka’s image in the eyes of the international community — especially the EU — in the run-up to the GSP-plus decision (ref B). This is a tough balancing act but one Rajapaksa will have to perform deftly as both the GSP-plus decision and the domestic election season approach.”

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Read the cable below for further details;

VZCZCXRO8998
OO RUEHAG RUEHROV RUEHSL RUEHSR
DE RUEHLM #0894 2611130
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 181130Z SEP 09
FM AMEMBASSY COLOMBO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0541
INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHKA/AMEMBASSY DHAKA PRIORITY 1907
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD PRIORITY 8936
RUEHKT/AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU PRIORITY 7174
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 5131
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI PRIORITY 3313
RUEHNY/AMEMBASSY OSLO PRIORITY 5087
RUEHOT/AMEMBASSY OTTAWA PRIORITY 1364
RUEHSM/AMEMBASSY STOCKHOLM PRIORITY 0622
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO PRIORITY 4197
RUEHCG/AMCONSUL CHENNAI PRIORITY 9501
RUEHBI/AMCONSUL MUMBAI PRIORITY 6802
RUEHON/AMCONSUL TORONTO PRIORITY 1293
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA PRIORITY 3738
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 COLOMBO 000894 

SIPDIS 

DEPARTMENT FOR SCA/INSB 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/17/2019
TAGS: PGOV PREL PREF PHUM PTER EAID MOPS CE
SUBJECT: PRESIDENT QUESTIONS VERACITY OF CPA DIRECTOR DEATH
THREAT 

REF: A. COLOMBO 890
     B. COLOMBO 860 

Classified By: AMBASSADOR PATRICIA BUTENIS.  REASONS: 1.4 (B, D) 

1. (U) On September 16, President Rajapaksa called for an
investigation to verify a death threat against Paikiasothi
Saravanamuttu, or &Sara8, Director of the Centre for Policy
Alternatives.  As mentioned in ref. A, Sara received a letter
on August 20, 2009, threatening him with death for his
alleged role in pushing the EU to revoke GSP-plus trade
concessions for Sri Lanka.  At the time he received the
threat Sara immediately forwarded a scan of the actual letter
and the envelope in which it arrived to a wide range of
diplomatic, civil society, and other persons.  He contacted
top members of the Government of Sri Lanka (GSL) to inform
them of the threat and to demand they investigate it and
ensure his safety. 

2. (U)  A half-page advertisement appeared in the local Daily
Mirror on September 16, which condemned the death threat on
Sara, explained in detail his actual position on GSP-plus,
and defended his reputation.  (NOTE:  Sara has called for a
continuation of GSP-plus along with an improvement by the GSL
on its human rights record.  END NOTE.)  The statement was
signed by about 125 prominent persons and human rights
advocates in Sri Lanka. 

3. (C)  Later on September 16, during a Cabinet meeting, the
president questioned whether the death threat was real and
reportedly called his brother Gotabaya Rajapaksa at the
Ministry of Defence to ask him to investigate.  Media reports
say the president stated that an international conspiracy was
clearly at work trying to ruin Sri Lanka,s reputation and
that this signed statement could be used against the country.
 He asked that officials follow up with the signatories to
the statement to question them on whether they really
believed Sara had been threatened.  Sara told Embassy staff
that the police came and took a statement from him again
today, for the third time, about the threat.  Post discretely
will contact some others on the list to see whether the
police questioned them. 

COMMENT:
-------- 

4. (C)  The president appears to be attacking the veracity of
Saravanamuttu and his supporters for domestic political
purposes, attempting to portray Sri Lanka as under threat
from a conspiracy of Western international actors and their
local allies.  This appears to contradict a recently
inaugurated attempt to boost Sri Lanka's image in the eyes of
the international community -- especially the EU -- in the
run-up to the GSP-plus decision (ref B).  This is a tough
balancing act but one Rajapaksa will have to perform deftly
as both the GSP-plus decision and the domestic election
season approach.
BUTENIS

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