3 August, 2020

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WikiLeaks: Sampanthan Doesn’t Discuss ‘War Crimes’ Out Of Fear

By Colombo Telegraph –

Sampanthan was realistic about the dim prospects for any Sri Lankan government to take up the issue.

“While he believed the Tamil community was “vulnerable” on the issue and said he would not discuss “war crimes” per se in parliament for fear of retaliation, Sampanthan would emphasize the importance of people knowing the truth about what happened during the war” the US Embassy Colombo informed Washington.

The Colombo Telegraph found the related leaked cable from the WikiLeaks database. The cable is classified as “SECRET” and recounts details of a meeting the US Ambassador has had with Tamil National Alliance leader R. Sampanthan . The cable was written on January 15, 2010 by the US Ambassador to Colombo, Patricia A. Butenis.

Ambassador Butenis wrote “he said he believed accountability was important and he welcomed the international community’s — especially the diaspora’s — interest in the issue. But Sampanthan was realistic about the dim prospects for any Sri Lankan government to take up the issue. Granting that governments in power do not investigate their own, Sampanthan nevertheless said it was important to the health of the nation to get the truth out. While he believed the Tamil community was “vulnerable” on the issue and said he would not discuss “war crimes” per se in parliament for fear of retaliation, Sampanthan would emphasize the importance of people knowing the truth about what happened during the war. We also have asked Sampanthan repeatedly for his ideas on an accountability mechanism that would be credible to Tamils and possible within the current political context, but he has not been able to provide such a model.”

Below we give the relevant part of the cable;

VZCZCXRO9281
OO RUEHAG RUEHROV RUEHSL
DE RUEHLM #            0032/01 0151223      
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
O 151223Z JAN 10
FM AMEMBASSY COLOMBO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1120
INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHKA/AMEMBASSY DHAKA PRIORITY 2264
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD PRIORITY 9286
RUEHKT/AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU PRIORITY 7541
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 5373
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI PRIORITY 3699
RUEHNY/AMEMBASSY OSLO PRIORITY 5298
RUEHOT/AMEMBASSY OTTAWA PRIORITY 0159
RUEHSM/AMEMBASSY STOCKHOLM PRIORITY 0824
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO PRIORITY 4420
RUEHCG/AMCONSUL CHENNAI PRIORITY 9847
RUEHBI/AMCONSUL MUMBAI PRIORITY 7136
RUEHON/AMCONSUL TORONTO PRIORITY 0154
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA PRIORITY 0001
RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI PRIORITY
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
Friday, 15 January 2010, 12:23
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 COLOMBO 000032
SIPDIS
DEPARTMENT FOR SCA/INSB
EO 12958 DECL: 01/15/2020
TAGS PGOV, PREL, PREF, PHUM, PTER, EAID, MOPS, CE
SUBJECT: SRI LANKA WAR-CRIMES ACCOUNTABILITY: THE TAMIL
PERSPECTIVE
REF: A. 09 COLOMBO 1180  B. COLOMBO 8
COLOMBO 00000032 001.2 OF 003
Classified By: AMBASSADOR PATRICIA A. BUTENIS. REASONS: 1.4 (B, D)

6. (S) Other Tamil politicians have not made public statements on accountability and are generally more pragmatic in their thinking. In our multiple recent discussions with TNA leader R. Sampanthan, he said he believed accountability was important and he welcomed the international community’s — especially the diaspora’s — interest in the issue. But Sampanthan was realistic about the dim prospects for any Sri Lankan government to take up the issue. Granting that governments in power do not investigate their own, Sampanthan nevertheless said it was important to the health of the nation to get the truth out. While he believed the Tamil community was “vulnerable” on the issue and said he would not discuss “war crimes” per se in parliament for fear of retaliation, Sampanthan would emphasize the importance of people knowing the truth about what happened during the war. We also have asked Sampanthan repeatedly for his ideas on an accountability mechanism that would be credible to Tamils and possible within the current political context, but he has not been able to provide such a model.

BUTENIS

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