21 September, 2020

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WikiLeaks: The war had “not been clean” Gota to US Senate Foreign Relations staff

Rajapaksa believed strongly in the value of repairing SL’s relations with the U.S.

“Rajapaksa noted that in defeating the LTTE terrorists the war had ‘not been clean,’ but was still a success.” the US Ambassador to Colombo informed Washington.

A leaked US unclassified, but “SENSITIVE” diplomatic cable, recounts details of meetings the US Senate Foreign Relations staff members has had with the senior government officials, international organizations, political leaders, civil-society activists, and journalists between November 2-8, 2009. The Colombo Telegraph found the cable from WikiLeaks database. The cable was written on December 1, 2009 by the US Ambassador to Colombo Patricia A. Butenis.

The US Ambassador wrote “Defense Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa expressed frustration that the U.S. and international community had not recognized the government’s progressive transition to democracy, ethnic reconciliation, disarmament and demobilization of paramilitary groups, rehabilitation of child soldiers, and economic development. He repeatedly used the Eastern Province as an example of the government’s demonstrated performance record and as a model for plans in the North.”  “He regretted that SL was ‘poor at propaganda’ and had done a poor job communicating its actions and intent to the international community, especially the U.S. and the West. While quick to criticize, the U.S. had been slow to acknowledge SL’s achievements.” she further wrote.

The Ambassador Butenis wrote “Rajapaksa believed strongly in the value of repairing SL’s relations with the U.S. and recommended that the U.S. should focus its attention to the future and not the past, judging the GSL on its record of performance in the Eastern Province, and not on the agendas of its critics.”

In the meeting Gotabaya Rajapaksa also discussed the issues related to military. The US Ambassador wrote “ The Defense Secretary ruled out expansion of the military – dismissing it as ‘only the Army talking’ – and said he hoped to increase SL military’s involvement in future UN peacekeeping operations. According to Rajapksa, the increases in the defense budget were meant to meet payment schedules for acquisitions during the war from China, Pakistan and Israel.”

“The Defence Secretary tool the opportunity to apologize to the staffers for involving them in a security incident at their hotel room the night before. The incident occurred when they received a surprise visit to one of their rooms by Sri Lankan plain clothes police. The police , acting on orders to investigate an anonymous tip that room 1603 (staffer’s room) was harbouring a terrorist, reacted by going directly to the room (not alerting the hotel) to investigate. The Defense Secretary explained that he had personally received this tip; had he known that the staffers were the occupants of the room 1603, he would have prevented the incident.” The Ambassador Butenis wrote. She further wrote “While the Defense Secretary apologized for the incident, it demonstrated heightened security concerns and lack of an adequate information – screening   process by the police and the Defense Secretary”

Realated news ; WikiLeaks: “ I’m not saying we are clean” Basil  to US Senate Foreign Relations staff

The Colombo Telegraph publishes the relevant part of the leaked cable below;

VZCZCXRO5326
PP RUEHBI
DE RUEHLM #1054/01 3270240
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 230240Z NOV 09
FM AMEMBASSY COLOMBO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0805
INFO RUEHKA/AMEMBASSY DHAKA 2075
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD 9103
RUEHKT/AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU 7345
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 5246
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 3500
RUEHNY/AMEMBASSY OSLO 5184
RUEHSM/AMEMBASSY STOCKHOLM 0719
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 4299
RUEHCG/AMCONSUL CHENNAI 9666
RUEHBI/AMCONSUL MUMBAI 6960
RUEHON/AMCONSUL TORONTO 0040
RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 3842
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 06 COLOMBO 001054

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR SCA/INSB

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM CE
SUBJECT: SENATE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE (SFRC) FACT FINDING
MISSION TO SRI LANKA

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: On November 2-8, Senate Foreign Relations staff
members Nilmini Rubin and Fatema Sumar visited Sri Lanka and held
meetings with senior government officials, international
organizations, political leaders, civil-society activists, and
journalists to discuss post war reconciliation, resettlement of
internally displaced persons (IDPs), the humanitarian situation, and
media freedom.  They also visited the South, East and IDP camp at
Manik Farm.  The StaffDel observed that the post-war situation in
Sri Lanka was complex, particularly in light of possible elections;
Sri Lankans no longer sensed a strong partnership with the U.S.; the
U.S. "tool box" in dealing with the government of Sri Lanka (GSL)
was self-limited; a sense of palpable fear still hung over the media
and civil society; and while the GSL was making progress and doing
some good things, SL had a long way to go on reconciliation and
resettlement.  Recognizing SL's geo-strategic importance to the U.S.
and the current and long-term bilateral relationship, many SL
interlocutors gave their recommendations on strengthening the
relationship and noted a need for more U.S. assistance for
resettlement and demining. END SUMMARY.

PRESIDENTIAL ADVISOR:
CRITICISMS NOT WARRANTED
------------------------

2. (SBU) The president's brother, MP, and de-facto czar of the IDP
and demining issues Basil Rajapaksa hoped to improve the bilateral
relationship and build trust with the U.S.  He was critical of
recent U.S. remarks and recommended that the U.S. should choose its
words carefully.  For example, he noted that "the U.S. monitoring
the progress" was perceived as "U.S. encroachment on SL's
sovereignty."  While Sri Lanka was a small but proud country, SL did
not warrant a "minority mindset".  He suggested that the U.S. should
approach SL as "friends" and "give suggestions rather than make
critical remarks," and such criticisms were a recent phenomenon.  In
response to the "incident's report," Rajapaksa candidly remarked,
"I'm not saying we're clean; we could not abide by international law
- this would have gone on for centuries, an additional 60 years."
He highlighted the GSL's excellent relationship with India, and
argued that even India did not request monitoring of SL's progress.
Basil spoke at length on the resettlement progress and noted that
January 31 ends the 180-day plan, and that the GSL had promised to
have 80% of the IDPs released in 180 days, but that "Blake had said
our plan was too ambitious."  He asserted that 80% of the IDPs would
be released by the end of January.  He did not want to release
details of the government's plan because any delays or changes would
leave the GSL open to international criticism.  Basil believed SL
was well on its way "to win the hearts and minds of the people" and
to resettle the IDPs.  On freedom of movement, the GSL was still
concerned about LTTE sympathizers in the camps and took a paternal
view of the safety of IDPs returning to cleared lands.  On media
freedom, Basil argued that the media had not been singled out, and
that high ranking police and army officials and members of the
business community had also been imprisoned on the terrorism
charges.  On media access to the camps, Rajapaksa emphasized that
media restrictions in the camps were for the benefit of the IDPs and
commented that "IDPs don't like media, cameras, because they don't
want to be portrayed in those conditions."  He pointed out that free
access would be only granted to those "genuinely interested" and
only those "that could be truly trusted."

DEFENSE SECRETARY:  NO
RECOGNITION OF GSL'S PROGRESS
-----------------------------

3. (SBU) Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa expressed frustration
that the U.S. and international community had not recognized the
government's progressive transition to democracy, ethnic
reconciliation, disarmament and demobilization of paramilitary
groups, rehabilitation of child soldiers, and economic development.
He repeatedly used the Eastern Province as an example of the
government's demonstrated performance record and as a model for

COLOMBO 00001054  002 OF 006

plans in the North.  He regretted that SL was "poor at propaganda"
and had done a poor job communicating its actions and intent to the
international community, especially the U.S. and the West.  While
quick to criticize, the U.S. had been slow to acknowledge SL's
achievements.  Rajapaksa believed strongly in the value of repairing
SL's relations with the U.S. and recommended that the U.S. should
focus its attention on the future and not the past, judging the GSL
on its record of performance in the Eastern Province, and not on the
agendas of its critics.  Rajapaksa reiterated SL's real victory over
the LTTE and contended that lasting peace would only be achieved by
development in the North.  Rajapaksa noted that in defeating the
LTTE terrorists the war had "not been clean," but was still a
success. The Defense Secretary ruled out expansion of the military -
dismissing it as "only the army talking" - and said he hoped to
increase SL military's involvement in future UN peacekeeping
operations.  According to Rajapaksa, the increases in the defense
budget were meant to meet payment schedules for acquisitions during
the war from China, Pakistan and Israel. The Defense Secretary took
the opportunity to apologize to the staffers for involving them in a
security incident at their hotel room the night before.  The
incident occurred when they received a surprise visit to one of
their rooms by Sri Lankan plain clothes police.  The police, acting
on orders to investigate an anonymous tip that room 1603 (staffer's
room) was harboring a terrorist, reacted by going directly to the
room (not alerting the hotel) to investigate.  The Defense Secretary
explained that he had personally received this tip; had he known
that the staffers were the occupants of the room 1603, he would have
prevented the incident.  While the Defense Secretary apologized for
the incident, it demonstrated heightened security concerns and lack
of an adequate information-screening process by the police and the
Defense Secretary.
BUTENIS
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Latest comments

  • 0
    0

    I suppose the US Ambassador is an imbecile enough to think that her country has fought clean wars in the past. The amount of war crimes committed in Vietnam were never brought to light. The massacre of the village of Mai Lai showed proof of the American disregard for the lives of cvilians when the man who ordered the killing of a number of unarmed civilian old men women and children was senteced to 8 years imprisonment. This would never have happened if some of his soldiers did not bring it to the notice of the American authorities who were obliged to take action. Ask Mrs Butenis if the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are clean. Why are there so many civilian deaths if the US fought clean wars?

    • 0
      0

      Very well put!

    • 0
      0

      Of the 26 charged for Mai Lai only one was convictedn and he (Calley) was released early. The helicopter pilots who flew low and tried to stop the massacre received death threats and it took 30 years before the USA recognised their bravery. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/My_Lai_Massacre

  • 0
    0

    “Why are there so many civillian deaths if the US fought clean war” ?
    Its because none of their wars were clean.
    Only American lives are precious.

  • 0
    0

    Gotabhaya Rajapaksa shoud hang for killing thousand of civilian.

    • 0
      0

      huh, terrorists masquerading as civilians. Blame your Prabhakaran for holding the remaining civilians as his personal defence shield even after he was repeatedly told to let go of them. Hang him on the yardarm for the death of your kith and kin.

  • 0
    0

    for pete’s sake Mrs Butenis..are you educated enough to realise that war is WAR…good, bad or indifferent..seriously consider the wars in vietnam, afghanistan, iraq & numerous attempts to depose democratically elected heads of state….

  • 0
    0

    If Gota himself admitted to the US Senate Foreign Relations Staff that “the war had not been clean”,
    and Basil also says ‘ I am not saying we are clean, we could not abide by International Law” they
    are acknowledging that there was some wrong doing ,and that both Gota and Basil are privy to some
    information which corroborates their statements.. In view of this ,it is clear ,and we have to conclude
    that their brother and Commander in Chief is also aware of these facts.

    So ….are we guilty or not guilty of the charges leveled against us?
    Not guilty because others have also waged “unclean ‘ wars ?

  • 0
    0

    No one may not be questioning about the war and killing of the LTTE fighters.
    Whereas the Rajapakse regime put over 300,000 innocents Tamils like cattle and abducted at night, tortured, raped and murdered tens of thousands of innocent people.
    Even today abductions, torture, rape and murder are going on and Tamils are treated worse than slaves in Sri Lanka.
    Indian congress regime’s alleged criminal intentions against the Tamils are well known to the world. India under Congress is the worst inhuman and corrupt regime on earth.
    It is the duty of the International community to have an independent international investigation in Sri Lanka and about the Indian officials’ collaboration against innocent Tamils, human rights abuses and war crimes.

  • 0
    0

    Alleged criminals bringing democracy?
    Gotabhaya should know that there is no democracy in Sri Lanka even after ending the war and it is full of Sinhala chauvinist thuggary, racism, Apartheid and crimes are committed daily without any rule of law, equality, accountability and justice.
    This regime is not capable of bringing anyone to accountability and justice as it is primarily responsible for the crimes committed and deny access to the International community, NGOs, Human Rights Groups, media and Journalists and diplomats to have unrestricted access to Tamils and Tamil areas.
    It is sad to see that although US knew about the crimes committed it has not taken any step to being the perpetrators to accountability and Justice.

    • 0
      0

      Shiva are you from this world? who killed most number of Tamils in Sri Lanka? Who killed Doreappa ? who killed Amirthalingam & many of other tamil leaders?

      Now the peace has come to the country and let us live peacefully without dark ghost of LTTE.

    • 0
      0

      When LTTE doing war crimes to innocent civilians where were you ?

  • 0
    0

    Whaw! US is fighting clean wars! Mrs.Butanis please show us where US fight a clean war? May be you’ll fight a clean war in Viatnam to lose the war. But it can’t be in Iraq because we saw that killings in prison & that helicopter attack against civilians.

    May be attacks in Packistan was clean because Osama died with gun shot wounds or may be killing of Gaddafi was clean because he was wearing that famous sunglass of his.

    Oh may be in Afganistan because we heard one of your five star genral saying that US is loosing the war in Afganistan. good that’s how you should caryout clean wars.

    keep it up! Good Job!

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