“Defense spokesman Minister Keheliya Rambukwella asserted that certain international organizations have been “infiltrated by the LTTE” and are helping to spread disinformation. In discussing the widely-publicized statement of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanetham (“Navi”) Pillay noting 2,800 civilian deaths and 7,000 injuries, the spokesman claimed: “There are certain pro-LTTE elements in international organizations holding high ranking posts. They are taking cover behind these organizations in order to support the LTTE.” (Note: Pillay, a South African national, happens to be an ethnic Tamil but to our knowledge, has never visited Sri Lanka.)” the US Embassy Colombo informed Washington.
The Colombo Telegraph found the related leaked cable from the WikiLeaks database. The “Unclassified” cable on March 19, 2009 by the US Ambassador to Colombo,Robert O. Blake discusses the situation in the conflict zone.
Read the cable below for further details;
O 191143Z MAR 09 FM AMEMBASSY COLOMBO TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9616 INFO AMEMBASSY ATHENS AMEMBASSY BANGKOK AMEMBASSY DHAKA AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU AMEMBASSY LONDON AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI AMEMBASSY OSLO AMEMBASSY TOKYO AMCONSUL CHENNAI AMCONSUL MUMBAI AMCONSUL TORONTO USEU BRUSSELS USMISSION USUN NEW YORK USMISSION GENEVA HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI DIA WASHINGTON DC NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC SECDEF WASHDC CDRUSARPAC FT SHAFTER HI//APCW/APOP// CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI//J3/J332/J52//
UNCLAS COLOMBO 000310 SENSITIVE STATE FOR SCA (BOUCHER, CAMP), SCA/INS AND PRM STATE ALSO PASS USAID AID/W FOR ANE/SCA, DCHA/FFP (DWORKEN, KSHEIN) AID/W FOR DCHA/OFDA (MORRISP, ACONVERY, RTHAYER, RKERR) ATHENS FOR PCARTER BANGKOK FOR USAID/DCHA/OFDA (WBERGER) KATHMANDU FOR USAID/DCHA/OFDA AND POL (SBERRY) GENEVA FOR RMA (NKYLOH, NHILGERT, MPITOTTI) USUN NEW YORK FOR ECOSOC (D MERCADO) SECDEF FOR OSD - POLICY PACOM ALSO FOR J-5 E.O. 12958: N/A TAGS: MOPS PREF PHUM PGOV PREL ASEC CE SUBJECT: Northern Sri Lanka SitRep 35 Ref: A) Colombo 307 B) Colombo 304 C) Colombo 299 D) Colombo 294 E) Colombo 287 F) Colombo 282 G) Colombo 279 H) Colombo 277 I) Colombo 265 J) Colombo 258 K) Colombo 250 ¶1. (SBU) Summary: The UN Resident Coordinator informed Ambassador of reports of planes dropping bombs in the Government-designated "safe zone" on March 18. Multiple accounts substantiate reports of civilian retaliation against the LTTE on March 18. Larger numbers of civilians are fleeing into Government-controlled territory. OFDA Regional Advisor interviewed local aid worker who escaped the conflict area on March 18. End Summary. Aircraft Bombs Safe Zone ------------------------ ¶2. (SBU) UN Resident Coordinator Neil Buhne informed Ambassador of reports that the Sri Lankan Air Force bombed targets within the safe zone late on March 18. Embassy is contacting other sources for corroboration and further detail. (Note: it is likely the Air Force was targeting the LTTE leadership.) Civilians Retaliate Against LTTE -------------------------------- ¶3. (SBU) The nationalist daily newspaper "Island" reported that on March 17 "angry civilians... set fire to an LTTE 'police' station at Puthumathalan in the civilian safety zone after LTTE cadres shot dead parents of a child whom they made an abortive bid to abduct. They also shot dead the child before retreating among violent protests." Military Spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara, in a press briefing on March 18, noted that this incident sparked wider protests by IDPs, which included the burning of LTTE vehicles. Embassy cannot substantiate all the details of these reports, but they are consistent with earlier information regarding retaliation against the LTTE by IDPs (Ref A). IDPs Fleeing Conflict Zone -------------------------- ¶4. (SBU) News reports indicate as many as 2,000 civilians entered Government-controlled territory on March 18, taking advantage of the chaos to escape. Among this total, 643 civilians fled the conflict area in dinghies on March 18 and were reportedly rescued by the Sri Lankan Navy. Newspapers, as well as a military contact, attest the Navy chased away LTTE boats which were attempting to halt the civilians' escape. Government owned "Daily News" reports the LTTE may have fired on the flotilla of dinghies before the Navy drove them off. ¶5. (SBU) OFDA Regional Adviser met on March 18 with a group of 15 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Vavuniya who fled the "safe zone", including a Sri Lankan employee of the International Organization for Migration (IOM). This contact reported that the LTTE is now widely recruiting from among the trapped population, forcing both young and old to fight, and is positioning its artillery within civilian concentrations. The IOM worker confirmed the skirmish on March 17 following LTTE attempt to forcibly recruit civilians who were offloading food supplies, leading to wider retaliation by the IDPs. The IOM worker and his family fled the conflict zone at 2:30a.m. on March 18 by crossing the lagoon on foot. He reported that LTTE forces fired on his group of 15 people in an attempt to stop their flight. When they neared the Sri Lankan military side, army soldiers provided cover fire for the civilians to safely exit the lagoon. They have since been transported to one of the newly prepared IDP sites at Manik Farms, Vavuniya. Defense: "Pro-LTTE" Elements in International Organizations --------------------------------------------- ¶6. (SBU) Defense spokesman Minister Keheliya Rambukwella asserted that certain international organizations have been "infiltrated by the LTTE" and are helping to spread disinformation. In discussing the widely-publicized statement of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanetham ("Navi") Pillay noting 2,800 civilian deaths and 7,000 injuries, the spokesman claimed: "There are certain pro-LTTE elements in international organizations holding high ranking posts. They are taking cover behind these organizations in order to support the LTTE." (Note: Pillay, a South African national, happens to be an ethnic Tamil but to our knowledge, has never visited Sri Lanka.) Food, But Still No Meds ----------------------- ¶7. (U) Offloading of 500MT of food aid from the Vin-Tan cargo vessel will finish by the end of today (March 19). The vessel will return to Trincomalee by March 20. The World Food Program aims for another food shipment during the week of March 23-27. The ICRC confirmed that the Government did not provide any medical supplies for the evacuation ferry which departed for the safe zone the night of March 18. ¶8. (U) Colombo 307 (Ref A) reports on the Ambassador's meeting with Sri Lanka's Foreign Minister in which the Ambassador raised the range of U.S. concerns. BLAKE