25 September, 2020

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WikiLeaks: Outside neutral observers agree GSL could have finished off LTTE more quickly – Butenis

By Colombo Telegraph –

“Most outside, neutral observers privately agree that the GSL could have finished off the LTTE more quickly if they had been willing to risk a higher level of civilian casualties.” the US Ambassador to Colombo wrote to Washington.

A leaked US unclassified diplomatic cable discussed the post-war challenges in Sri Lanka. The Colombo Telegraph found the cable from WikiLeaks database. The cable was written on October 30, 2009 by the US Ambassador to Colombo Patricia A. Butenis.

Many believed the Government of Sri Lanka could have minimized those casualties had it allowed for some sort of negotiated surrender by the LTTE once the GSL had surrounded remaining LTTE fighters

Under the subject of “Sri Lanka Scenesetter” the Ambassador Butenis wrote “ Final months of the war were brutal, inflicting heavy damage on all sides, both military and civilian. Estimates of the number of dead and wounded vary widely, but outside observers agree that the civilian toll was high. Many believed the Government of Sri Lanka could have minimized those casualties had it allowed for some sort of negotiated surrender by the LTTE once the GSL had surrounded remaining LTTE fighters. It is not clear, however, whether greater effort in that direction by GSL would have been successful.” “The LTTE seemed intent on holding out very end, forcibly recruiting civilians as young as 12 to continue the fight, and using their own civilians as human shields even when it appeared defeat was inevitable. In the last days and weeks of the conflict, it became increasingly difficult to differentiate between civilians and LTTE combatants. Most outside, neutral observers privately agree that the GSL could have finished off the LTTE more quickly if they had been willing to risk a higher level of civilian casualties. The State Department’s recent report to Congress on incidents during the final stage of the war makes clear that significant numbers of civilian dead and wounded were caused by both sides in the final months of the war.” she further wrote.

Related news – WikiLeaks: Don’t push Sri Lanka towards Burma-like isolation – American Ambassador Butenis

Below we give the relevant part of the cable.

VZCZCXRO4345
PP RUEHBI
DE RUEHLM #0999/01 3030802
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 300802Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY COLOMBO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0700
INFO RUEHKA/AMEMBASSY DHAKA 1995
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD 9031
RUEHKT/AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU 7269
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 5192
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 3419
RUEHNY/AMEMBASSY OSLO 5144
RUEHSM/AMEMBASSY STOCKHOLM 0679
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 4255
RUEHCG/AMCONSUL CHENNAI 9594
RUEHBI/AMCONSUL MUMBAI 6888
RUEHON/AMCONSUL TORONTO 1353
RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 3802
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 COLOMBO 000999

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR SCA/INSB; H (pass to SFRC staff)

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PREF PHUM PTER EAID MOPS CE
SUBJECT: Sri Lanka Scenesetter

1. (SBU) Sri Lanka stands at a pivotal point in its modern history.
The end of the long secessionist war with the LTTE opens up
opportunities for national reconciliation, political reform,
economic renewal, and international re-engagement.  The question is
whether the Sri Lankan leadership has the vision, determination, and
courage to seize the opportunity.  The Sri Lankans value their
realtions with the United States.  Our challenge is strongly to
encourage the Sri Lankan government to embrace reconciliation,
accountability, and respect for human rights, while trying not to
push the country towards Burma-like isolation from the West.

Aftermath of the Conflict
-------------------------

2. (SBU) The final months of the war were brutal, inflicting heavy
damage on all sides, both military and civilian.  Estimates of the
number of dead and wounded vary widely, but outside observers agree
that the civilian toll was high.  Many believed the Government of
Sri Lanka (GSL) could have minimized those casualties had it allowed
for some sort of negotiated surrender by the LTTE once the GSL had
surrounded remaining LTTE fighters.  It is not clear, however,
whether greater effort in that direction by the GSL would have been
successful.  The LTTE seemed intent on holding out to the very end,
forcibly recruiting civilians as young as 12 to continue the fight,
and using their own civilians as human shields even when it appeared
defeat was inevitable.  In the last days and weeks of the conflict,
it became increasingly difficult to differentiate between civilians
and LTTE combatants.  Most outside, neutral observers privately
agree that the GSL could have finished off the LTTE more quickly if
they had been willing to risk a higher level of civilian casualties.
 The State Department's recent report to Congress on incidents
during the final stage of the war makes clear that significant
numbers of civilian dead and wounded were caused by both sides in
the final months of the war.
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Latest comments

  • 0
    0

    Americans are the worst , saying something to Tamils and in secret memos they something else. bastards

  • 0
    0

    Ram, WHTF are u talking? what she is telling is true. hope u are a member of Tiger diaspora. that’s why u think that way. see LTTE killed your own people too

  • 0
    0

    Butenis is a Dr Jakyl Mr Hyde kind of person , that is all I can say after reading this leaks.

  • 0
    0

    great – even more dead! Don’t these people worry about loss of human life

  • 0
    0

    This is useless what we do now, we shd give power to real tamil people in North not the fake politicians like TNA people and let them choose. Democracy from the people to the people.

  • 0
    0

    The whole problem is letting these outsiders interfere in our national problems. First , Sri Lanka went on dragging the problem, and didn’t want to solve it. Then India got involved,got down unemployed ,frustrated Tamil youths ,
    trained them in warfare. They trained five or six groups for their ulterior strategy, using Lankan Tamil youths,in order to teach a lesson to Sri Lanka”.Then we know what happened. Even Americans are just using us for their own
    purposes. None of these people love Sri Lanka,Sinhalese or Tamils. These American diplomats know everything,
    sent ‘cables’ after cables, just watching the fun, when people are suffering. Never trust these vultures who prey
    for trouble ,enjoy calamity, wait to take away the spoils of the war. India or USA all the same. Solve our problems
    sincerely & honestly at least here after and keep these vultures away from our nation.

  • 0
    0

    Given that Ambassador Butenis notes that it is not clear that the government’s attempts to negotiate the surrender of the LTTE would have resulted in fewer casualties, I fail to see why you even bothered to publish the leaked documentation, unless it’s for the purpose of showing that the LTTE were heedless of the civilian death toll they themselves had a part in.

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