Colombo Telegraph

WikiLeaks: Sri Lanka Appreciated US Support In The Fight Against LTTE – US State Department

“Blake and S/WCI Ambassador Rapp met later on September 15 with Sri Lankan Ambassador to the U.S. Wickramasuriya and DCM Tissa Wijeratne to inform them about the upcoming report. Like Bogollagama, Wickramasuriya expressed concern about the impact of the report on relations with the U.S., suggesting that the report would be received badly by the media and public. While news of the report stings more coming from a friendly country like the U.S., Wickramasuriya stressed President Rajapaksa’s determination to maintain strong U.S.-Sri Lanka ties, expressing appreciation for U.S. support in the fight against the LTTE. Wickramasuriya noted that the decision to end definitively the war against the LTTE would, in the long run, ease the suffering faced by all Sri Lankans, in particular Tamils. He also maintained that the decision to pursue a dangerous ground offensive against the LTTE, rather than aerial bombardment, reduced civilian casualties but lost twenty thousand troops in the Sri Lankan Army as a result.” US State Department wrote to US Embassy Colombo. 

A classified diplomatic cable which details a meeting the US Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs Robert O. Blake and Ambassador at Large for War Crimes Investigations Stephen Rapp had with Sri Lankan Ambassador Jaliya Wickramasuriya on September 15, 2009. The Colombo Telegraph found the related US diplomatic cable from the Secretary of State section of the WikiLeaks database. The cable is classified as “Confidential” and signed by Hillary Clinton.

Read the cable below for further details;

VZCZCXRO7506
PP RUEHAG RUEHROV RUEHSL RUEHSR
DE RUEHC #6501/01 2600032
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 170013Z SEP 09
FM SECSTATE WASHDC
TO RUEHLM/AMEMBASSY COLOMBO PRIORITY 5956
INFO EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHSW/AMEMBASSY BERN PRIORITY 6535
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA PRIORITY 5238
RUEHNY/AMEMBASSY OSLO PRIORITY 8657
RUEHOT/AMEMBASSY OTTAWA PRIORITY 6614
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO PRIORITY 0504
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA PRIORITY 9153
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 7757
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 STATE 096501 

SIPDIS 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/16/2019 
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM PREF MOPS KAWC CE
SUBJECT: SRI LANKA: A/S BLAKE RAISES IDPS AND REPORT TO 
CONGRESS WITH FM BOGOLLAGAMA 

Classified By: SCA A/S Robert O. Blake, Jr., reasons 1.4 (b) and (d) 

¶1. (C) SUMMARY:  Assistant Secretary for South and Central 
Asian Affairs Robert Blake urged Sri Lankan Foreign Minister 
Bogollagama September 15 to allow freedom of movement for 
internally displaced persons (IDPs) by the end of September, 
when monsoon rains will begin.  A/S Blake stressed that the 
continued detention of IDPs is contrary to international 
standards.  Bogollagama restated the challenges Sri Lanka 
faces in screening for former Tamil tiger (LTTE) combatants 
and the slow pace of demining.  He sought to assure A/S Blake 
of substantial progress on IDP returns over the next month. 

¶2. (C) SUMMARY CONT'D:  Blake told Bogollagama that the 
report being prepared by the State Department Office of War 
Crimes Investigations (S/WCI) is a Congressionally mandated 
compilation of information about potential violations of 
international humanitarian law committed by both sides of the 
conflict in its final stage -- not a political message.  That 
said, accountability is an important part of political 
reconciliation.  Bogollagama expressed concern about the 
potential negative impact of the report on the bilateral 
relationship.  Blake and Ambassador for War Crimes 
Investigations Stephen Rapp met later on September 15 with 
Sri Lankan Ambassador Wickramasuriya to make the same points. 
 Wickramasuriya also expressed concern for the potential 
impact on the bilateral relationship, noting that the public 
and media would respond negatively.  He emphasized that the 
military victory over the LTTE would ease the suffering of 
all the Sri Lankan people in the long run.  END SUMMARY. 

FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT FOR IDPS 
---------------------------- 

¶3. (C) In a September 15 telephone call to Sri Lankan Foreign 
Minister Rohitha Bogollagama, SCA A/S Blake underscored the 
difficulty the international community will face in 
continuing to support the IDP camps.  More than three months 
since the end of hostilities, IDPs remain behind barbed wire 
and, contrary to internationally accepted practice and 
standards, are not permitted to leave.  Bogollagama sought to 
assure A/S Blake that a substantial number of low-risk IDPs, 
such as children, the elderly, would be returned over the 
next month.  He noted the 9,400 returns that had recently 
been announced and pointed to successful, ongoing 
rehabilitation efforts for former LTTE combatants. 
Bogollagama blamed the slow pace of returns on the need to 
demine the areas IDPs had fled, which he maintained was a 
precondition for returning them to many of their home 
districts.  He argued that progress on demining is being 
made, namely on roads, and pointed to recently purchased 
demining equipment from the Czech Republic.  At the same 
time, he questioned the level of productivity of 
international NGOs being supported by the U.S. and others in 
the international community. 

¶4. (C) A/S Blake said he understood the need to ensure that 
IDPs return to safe areas, but argued that the process of 
screening former LTTE has slowed GSL's effort.  He noted the 
apparent lack of a timetable to complete the screening 
process.  Bogollagama called the process time-intensive, 
saying the focus to date has been on feeding and sheltering 
people.  A/S Blake reemphasized that more progress on IDP 
returns will boost Sri Lanka's standing in the international 
community, suggesting that the rolling targets announced by 
the GSL -- targets that it has successively missed by a wide 
margin -- undermine GSL credibility. 

REPORT TO CONGRESS ON POTENTIAL VIOLATIONS 
OF INTERNATIONAL HUMANITARIAN LAW 
------------------------------------------ 

¶5. (C) Blake stressed the report was ordered by Congress and 
is not a political message.  The report will catalogue 
potential violations of international humanitarian law by 
both sides of the conflict.  Blake emphasized that 
accountability is important so that Sri Lanka can have a 
process of political reconciliation.  Bogollagama expressed 
concern about the impact of the report on U.S.-Sri Lanka 
relations, suggesting that the Administration could have 

STATE 00096501  002 OF 002 

delayed the report or responded to the request from Congress 
in a manner "sensitive to our relations."  Blake responded 
that was not an option.  Bogollagama also expressed concern 
for the impact of the report on the reconciliation process 
between the government and Tamils, noting the recent meeting 
between President Rajapaksa and the Tamil National Alliance. 

¶6. (C) Blake and S/WCI Ambassador Rapp met later on September 
15 with Sri Lankan Ambassador to the U.S. Wickramasuriya and 
DCM Tissa Wijeratne to inform them about the upcoming report. 
 Like Bogollagama, Wickramasuriya expressed concern about the 
impact of the report on relations with the U.S., suggesting 
that the report would be received badly by the media and 
public.  While news of the report stings more coming from a 
friendly country like the U.S., Wickramasuriya stressed 
President Rajapaksa's determination to maintain strong 
U.S.-Sri Lanka ties, expressing appreciation for U.S. support 
in the fight against the LTTE.  Wickramasuriya noted that the 
decision to end definitively the war against the LTTE would, 
in the long run, ease the suffering faced by all Sri Lankans, 
in particular Tamils.  He also maintained that the decision 
to pursue a dangerous ground offensive against the LTTE, 
rather than aerial bombardment, reduced civilian casualties 
but lost twenty thousand troops in the Sri Lankan Army as a 
result. 
CLINTON

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