Colombo Telegraph

WikiLeaks: Tamil Diaspora Is In Danger Of Becoming More Radicalized – Blake

“In a luncheon discussion with Co-Chair Ambassadors and the Acting Indian High Commissioner on November 14 Prime Minister Tony Blair’s Special Envoy Paul Murphy exchanged views on how the Northern Ireland peace process might be relevant for the Sri Lankan context. Murphy was the cabinet minister responsible for Northern Irish Affairs between 2002 and 2005, and was closely involved in the Northern Ireland peace process. He noted that while there are some important lessons that Sri Lanka can draw from the Northern Ireland experience, both sides must be convinced there can be no military solution and both must be committed to a cease-fire, neither of which is now the case in Sri Lanka.” the US Embassy Colombo informed Washington.

Robert O. Blake

The Colombo Telegraph found the related leaked cable from the WikiLeaks database. The cable is classified as “CONFIDENTIAL” and recounts details of a meeting US Ambassador to Colombo has had with British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s Special Envoy Paul Murphy on November 14, 2006. The cable was written by the US Ambassador to Colombo,Robert O. Blake.

The ambassador wrote; “Everyone agreed that the Irish-American Diaspora played an important role in Northern Ireland. In Sri Lanka’s case, however, the Tamil Diaspora is much more diffuse in that Tamils live in many countries, and has no clear leadership that can speak for them. Therefore, it is harder to influence the community as a whole or to get them to speak with one voice. We also agreed that if anything the Tamil Diaspora is in danger of becoming more radicalized as a result of the deteriorating military and humanitarian situation in Sri Lanka.”

We publish below the cable in full;

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 COLOMBO 001913

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR SCA/INS, USPACOM FOR FPA

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/14/2016
TAGS: PREL [External Political Relations], PTER [Terrorists and Terrorism], PGOV [Internal Governmental Affairs], CE [Sri Lanka], EI [Ireland]
SUBJECT: BLAIR SPECIAL ENVOY SEES SOME PARALLELS BETWEEN
NORTHERN IRELAND AND SRI LANKAN PEACE PROCESS, BUT DOUBTS
SRI LANKAN PARTIES READY FOR SUSTAINED NEGOTIATIONS

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

¶1. (C) Summary: In a luncheon discussion with Co-Chair
Ambassadors and the Acting Indian High Commissioner on
November 14 Prime Minister Tony Blair’s Special Envoy Paul
Murphy exchanged views on how the Northern Ireland peace
process might be relevant for the Sri Lankan context. Murphy
was the cabinet minister responsible for Northern Irish
Affairs between 2002 and 2005, and was closely involved in
the Northern Ireland peace process. He noted that while
there are some important lessons that Sri Lanka can draw from
the Northern Ireland experience, both sides must be convinced
there can be no military solution and both must be committed
to a cease-fire, neither of which is now the case in Sri
Lanka. End Summary

¶2. (C) Murphy made clear at the outset that he is not in
Sri Lanka to mediate or in any way detract from Norway’s
facilitation effort, but rather to brief on the Northern
Ireland peace process experience and the possible lessons Sri
Lanka might draw. He ticked off the following points that he
thought might be relevant to his Sri Lankan interlocutors.

— Northern Ireland was successful because all of the parties
were involved. The Good Friday Agreement was written by the
parties themselves so was likely to stick because the parties
themselves have ownership of the Agreement and the process.

— A fundamental precondition of the process was the
conviction of both sides that no one could win a war and that
a cease-fire was a necessary precondition for successful
talks. Murphy commented that from his limited talks thus far
in Sri Lanka it was not clear that either condition now
prevails here.

— International cooperation was a critical part of the Good
Friday Agreement. Murphy specifically cited the important
role played by Presidents Clinton and Bush, former Senator
George Mitchell, and Irish Americans both on the hill and
elsewhere. He also praised the EU’s financial and political
support for the process. Murphy commented it is good the
Co-Chairs already are involved.

— The Northern Ireland peace process was a highly structured
full-time peace process in which both sides shared a
building, had working level staff, and worked full time on
the issues.

— A critical milestone was the decision by Gerry Adams to
move from his support of a military solution to embracing a
political settlement. Murphy commented it was not clear the
LTTE or some parts of the Sri Lankan military were yet
prepared to make a similar move.

— Another critical element was the importance of trust by
all participants in the peace process itself and in each
other. Murphy commented and all others agreed that there is
virtually no trust for the moment between the parties in Sri
Lanka.

¶3. (C) Several key points emerged from the ensuing
discussion.

— Many of the ambassadors were pessimistic both about the
willingness of the LTTE and the Sri Lankan military to
seriously pursue peace negotiations.

COLOMBO 00001913 002 OF 002

— Likewise they were pessimistic that the international
community could bring sufficient pressure to compel the two
sides to change their stances, particularly in the case of
the LTTE where international leverage is limited.

— Everyone agreed that the Irish-American Diaspora played an
important role in Northern Ireland. In Sri Lanka’s case,
however, the Tamil Diaspora is much more diffuse in that
Tamils live in many countries, and has no clear leadership
that can speak for them. Therefore, it is harder to
influence the community as a whole or to get them to speak
with one voice. We also agreed that if anything the Tamil
Diaspora is in danger of becoming more radicalized as a
result of the deteriorating military and humanitarian
situation in Sri Lanka.
BLAKE

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