20 October, 2017

WikiLeaks: Time For A Cease-Fire To Pursue Political Negotiations Is Now Passed – Norwegians

The time for a cease-fire to pursue political negotiations is now passed - Photo: MATTIS SANDBLAD

By Colombo Telegraph 

“The Government of Norway has been engaged in quiet efforts to persuade the LTTE to allow civilians in the safe zone to leave.” the US Embassy informed Washington.

The Colombo Telegraph found the leaked US diplomatic cable from WikiLeak database. The Cable is classified as “confidential” and written by the Ambassador Robert O. Blake on March 19, 2009,

Placing a note ambassador Blake wrote “Norwegian efforts must be strictly protected and not referred to either publicly or privately by USG officials with third country nationals.”

“The LTTE has responded to Norwegian overtures by insisting there should be a cease-fire and political negotiations to resolve the conflict. The LTTE has also raised numerous procedural and other questions about how the UN and ICRC might evacuate civilians, the treatment they would be subjected to in the camps in Vavuniya, and GSL plans to resettle them. The Norwegians have made clear that the time for a cease-fire to pursue political negotiations is now passed; they are only responding to LTTE questions regarding the treatment of civilians once they leave the North. These talks are unlikely to reach a satisfactory conclusion before mid-April. In addition, despite Norway’s good faith efforts, a recent leak to a nationalist newspaper suggests the Government is wary of Norway’s work in this matter and may be preparing the ground to undercut Norway.” ambassador Blake further wrote.

The ambassador wrote “The LTTE maintains the fiction that civilians do not want to leave. All evidence points to the contrary: several civilians have been shot trying to escape, many others have escaped. We need to call the LTTE’s bluff. The SYG could reassure civilians they will be well treated, recalling Holmes, statement to the UNSC. To give added credibility to his assurances, he should coordinate in advance with the GSL so he can announce that the GSL has invited UN Special Rapporteur for IDP Issues Walter Kaelin to work with GSL to resolve remaining issues in the camps. The ICRC confirms it could then work in the safe zone to determine who actually wants to leave. If the LTTE refuses to cooperate, the UN can say so publicly which would likely cause the LTTE significant problems with its paymasters in the Tamil Diaspora. Ambassador has discussed the outlines of this proposal with the UN, ICRC and Foreign Minister, all of whom believe it is worth trying.”

Read the cable below for further details;

VZCZCXYZ0010
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHLM #0308/01 0781118
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 191118Z MAR 09
FM AMEMBASSY COLOMBO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9612
INFO RUEHBK/AMEMBASSY BANGKOK PRIORITY 3655
RUEHKT/AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU PRIORITY 6673
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI PRIORITY 2794
RUEHNY/AMEMBASSY OSLO PRIORITY 4768
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO PRIORITY 3870
RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI PRIORITY
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS PRIORITY
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA PRIORITY 3325
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 1018
C O N F I D E N T I A L COLOMBO 000308 

SIPDIS 

DEPARTMENT FOR D, P, SCA A/S BOUCHER AND PRM
AID/W FOR DCHA/OFDA FOR KLUU, RTHAYER AND RKERR
KATHMANDU FOR USAID/DCHA/OFDA MROGERS
USMISSION GENEVA FOR KYLOH 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/19/2019
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREF EAID CE
SUBJECT: A SUGGESTION FOR GETTING MANY OF SRI LANKA'S
CIVILIANS OUT OF THE CONFLICT ZONE 

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

1. (C) Summary:  While the US and some others are engaged in
intensive efforts to protect the estimated 120-150,000
civilians trapped in the "safe zone" of northern Sri Lanka
from shelling, and assure they have adequate food and
medicine, the international community needs a plan to
evacuate as many of these civilians as possible.  The Sri
Lankan Army very soon will control all territory in the north
except the safe zone and nationalists here will then push for
the SLA to finish the job.  Ambassador warned the Foreign
Minister on March 18 that such an effort could kill
thousands, and potentially tens of thousands of civilians and
would likely subject Sri Lanka to war crimes charges and
international outrage. The Minister promised the GSL will
exercise patience.  Others are not so sure. Norway is
engaging the LTTE, but these talks are moving slowly.
Mission recommends the USG ask the UNSYG to issue a public
statement calling on both sides to allow a humanitarian pause
in fighting for civilians who want to leave.  The LTTE
maintains the fiction that civilians do not want to leave.
All evidence points to the contrary:  several civilians have
been shot trying to escape, many others have escaped.  We
need to call the LTTE's bluff.  The SYG could reassure
civilians they will be well treated, recalling Holmes,
statement to the UNSC.  To give added credibility to his
assurances, he should coordinate in advance with the GSL so
he can announce that the GSL has invited UN Special
Rapporteur for IDP Issues Walter Kaelin to work with GSL to
resolve remaining issues in the camps.    The ICRC confirms
it could then work in the safe zone to determine who actually
wants to leave.  If the LTTE refuses to cooperate, the UN can
say so publicly which would likely cause the LTTE significant
problems with its paymasters in the Tamil Diaspora.
Ambassador has discussed the outlines of this proposal with
the UN, ICRC and Foreign Minister, all of whom believe it is
worth trying.  End Summary. 

Background
---------- 

2. (C) The USG in Colombo and Washington has been engaged in
intensive efforts to protect the estimated 120-150,000
civilians presently trapped in the "safe-zone" in northern
Sri Lanka.  We have pursued several tracks.  First, we and
other Co-Chair countries have called on the LTTE immediately
to allow civilians freedom of movement.  The LTTE has not
done so, instead it has shot civilians who have tried to
escape, and engaged in forcible recruitment of progressively
younger and older civilians to augment its diminishing cadre,
now estimated by the government at 400-500.  There is also
growing evidence of civilian confrontations with the LTTE in
the safe zone.  Publicly the LTTE continues to insist that it
is not safe for the civilians to be evacuated to
"concentration camps" in Vavuniya.  UN U/SYG Holmes in his
recent report to the UN Security Council following his visit
to Sri Lanka rebutted the LTTE's clais and stated that basic
needs are being met, altough clearly more needs to be done
on several frnts (for example, reduce overcrowding and
improve sanitation). 

3. (C) While we continue pressure on the LTTE, the U.S. and
others have pressed the government not to respond to LTTE
shelling emanating from the safe zone.  Despite repeated
assurances that it would not use heavy weapons or shell the
safe zone, Sri Lankan Army continues to respond to LTTE
shelling on almost a daily basis and has killed hundreds of
civilians just in the last week.  UN High Commissioner for
Human Rights issued a public statement on March 13 that more
than 2800 civilians have been killed just since January 20.
Lastly, we and others continue to press the government to
allow in food and medicine for the civilians, who are
completely dependent on such assistance.  The government has
done a much better job recently of allowing food in, but the
Ministry of Defense continues to block all medical shipments
leading to very high rates of mortality for civilians wounded
by shelling. 

Pressure On GSL to Finish Off the LTTE
---------------------------------------- 

4. (C)  In his February 4 National Day speech, President
Rajapaksa promised the Sri Lankan people that the Sri Lankan
military would occupy the north "in a matter of days."
Today, 6 weeks later, it is clear the LTTE has put up a much
stouter defense than anyone anticipated.  Nonetheless, the
Sri Lankan Army is now clearing the last remaining LTTE-held
town of Puthukkudiyiruppu (PTK).  Mopping up operations may
still last one to three weeks, but it is likely that very
soon the Sri Lankan Army will control all territory in the
north except the safe zone.  With the Sinhala and Tamil New
Year's celebrations on April 13 and 14 and Provincial Council
elections in late April, the GSL will face mounting domestic
pressure from its nationalist base and coalition partners to
finish off the LTTE before these take place. 

5. (C) A decision by the government to forcibly enter the
safe zone to kill or capture the remaining LTTE cadres would
have disastrous humanitarian consequences.  Credible
reporting suggests that the LTTE has prepared trenches and
bunkers in the safe zone in anticipation of a long siege.
Unless significant numbers of civilians can escape or be
evacuated, thousands, or even tens of thousands, of civilians
could be killed if the GSL tries to enter the safe zone
forcibly. 

6. (C) In a meeting with the Foreign Minister on March 18,
Ambassador expressed appreciation for the Defense Secretary's
repeated assurances that the GSL would not enter the safe
zone forcibly.  Nonetheless, the Ambassador noted that he was
hearing credible reports that many in the military and
elsewhere favor entering the safe zone and finishing off the
conflict.  The Ambassador warned the Minister that Sri Lanka
needed to understand that the deaths of thousands or even
tens of thousands of civilians from such an action would
cause an international outcry, likely subject the GSL to war
crime charges, and almost certainly undermine public support
in the U.S. and other donor countries for future
reconstruction efforts in the north.  The Minister
acknowledged these realities and reassured the Ambassador
that the GSL has no intention of entering the safe zone
forcibly. 

Diplomatic Efforts to Evacuate Civilians
---------------------------------------- 

7. (C) The Government of Norway has been engaged in quiet
efforts to persuade the LTTE to allow civilians in the safe
zone to leave.  (Note: Norwegian efforts must be strictly
protected and not referred to either publicly or privately by
USG officials with third country nationals.)  The LTTE has
responded to Norwegian overtures by insisting there should be
a cease-fire and political negotiations to resolve the
conflict.  The LTTE has also raised numerous procedural and
other questions about how the UN and ICRC might evacuate
civilians, the treatment they would be subjected to in the
camps in Vavuniya, and GSL plans to resettle them.  The
Norwegians have made clear that the time for a cease-fire to
pursue political negotiations is now passed; they are only
responding to LTTE questions regarding the treatment of
civilians once they leave the North.  These talks are
unlikely to reach a satisfactory conclusion before mid-April.
 In addition, despite Norway's good faith efforts, a recent
leak to a nationalist newspaper suggests the Government is
wary of Norway's work in this matter and may be preparing the
ground to undercut Norway. 

A Suggested Plan
---------------- 

8. (C) It is clear, then, that the international community
needs a plan now to evacuate as many of the civilians as
possible.  Mission recommends that Washington and USUN
consider the following approach.  The USG should ask the UN
Secretary General to issue a public statement calling on both 

sides to allow a humanitarian pause in fighting for civilians
who want to leave.  The LTTE maintains the fiction that
civilians do not want to leave.  As noted above, all evidence
points to the contrary.  The UN needs to call the LTTE's
bluff.  The SYG could reassure civilians they will be well
treated, recalling Holmes, late February statement to the UN
Security Council.  To give added credibility to his
assurances, the UN should coordinate in advance with the GSL
so the SYG can announce that the GSL has invited UN Special
Rapporteur for IDP Issues Walter Kaelin to work with GSL to
resolve remaining issues in the camps.  It is important the
initiative be cast as a GSL proposal given the GSL's
stiff-arming of Special Envoys proposed by the UK and others.
 Kaelin already has extensive experience in Sri Lanka and
would be well suited to this job. 

9.  (C) The obvious challenge is to get the LTTE's agreement
to this plan.  The ICRC confirmed to Embassy Colombo that
their staff in the safe zone could develop a mechanism to
determine which of the civilians want to leave.  If the LTTE
refuses to cooperate, the UN must then be prepared to say so
publicly.  Such an announcement would likely cause the LTTE
significant problems with the Tamil Diaspora, who have
supported the LTTE thus far and whom the LTTE is counting on
to help finance the reconstitution of the LTTE once fighting
is over in the North.  The Diaspora remains very concerned
about the plight of the civilians and would likely help the
UN pressure the LTTE to allow those civilians to leave who
want to.  (Septel will offer thoughts on ways the USG can do
more to reach out to the Tamil Diaspora in the U.S. both to
respond to their mail campaigns and engage them directly.)
Ambassador has discussed the outlines of this proposal with
the UN, ICRC and Sri Lanka's Foreign Minister, all of whom
believe it is worth trying.  It is clear the LTTE will not
let all of the civilians go because the civilians serve as
human shields and as a pool for conscription.  But even if we
can evacuate two-thirds of the civilians, that would mark
significant progress.
BLAKE
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Latest comments

  • 0
    0

    What Norway has to say to this happening right now http://english.cri.cn/6966/2012/03/18/2743s687641.htm

    • 0
      0

      I guess there will always be those who will cling to the fairy stories put out by the government about zero casualties and an army with a gun and a HR charter in hand. But the few who have the balls to find out from army guys themselves, what really happened at the lagoon will know there’s a lot that has not come out yet.

      There are droves of people with mountains of evidence they are willing to provide to someone who will conduct an impartial inquiry. They know if they handed it to the Gov. or the LLRC, that evidence would have disappeared before their own eyes.

      You know what, let those who protest, against the truth coming out, do so now. With their photographs blasted all around the world, they will not be forgotten and someday will have to explain why they were protesting. With the truth out in the open, these shallow, self-centered people will be identifiable for everyone to see.

  • 0
    0

    They try their best to evacuate civilians, not to save the LTTE. This cable is two months before the war ended. So what is this rubish, all so called patriots saying? they says the west wanted to save LTTE.
    Until now, i was thinking the same way. Thanks for WikiLeaks!

    • 0
      0

      Mj- Don’t you think it is rather strange that they are talking about war crimes at this early stage, estimating much larger numbers than is now known to have actually lost their lives, and yet the very same people are sticking to this pre-writtens script to this day, in spite of the facts of the lower rate of casualties. When was the Diaspora every interested in talking the LTTE out of a possible chance for glory and success to create their Eelam.

    • 0
      0

      You are sadly mistaken. this is Blake’s version of Norway’s role on humanitarian ground but in fact they were forcing SL govt. to stop the war to give a life line to LTTE. Remember French & British FMs sudden visit & all the surrender stories ran around.
      If they are genuine of the stand of the human shield issue, why are they going in front of UN now ?
      After 30 long years of misery of war, when we are trying to make bridges between the divided nation, when we are trying to build the country, they try to divide us again. What are the true intentions ?
      Please think twice. No matter what, they will not give us a chance & until there are some go after their dollars they will succeed.

  • 0
    0

    Ah! Norway, the architect of a lopsided ceasefire. The clandestine supplier of vehicles, radio equipment and aircraft parts to the LTTE and the now contrite wanna be peacemaker who learned the hard way that it was not cut out for the role and released it’s Epilogue of a Report absolving its self of it’s sins.

  • 0
    0

    GOSL should read through this & re-iterate the double standard adopted through now-ongoing US Resolution in Geneva.

    US is admitting here of the LTTE ruse & recognises Tamils were being used as human shields. So much evidence why GOSL had to launch a humanitarian operation to rescue them.

    If the whole world knows LTTE as a terorist organisation, what is the problem of Prabha / family being shot dead even after capture? Do we know what US did to Ossama Bin Laden. Wasnt he captured, tortured & killed? or is he still alive?

    What about videos/photos in Afghanistan revealed by Bradely Manning, showing US helicoptors firing at reporters? Taliban/Ossama/Afghans are not humans? Arent those crimes against humanity?

  • 0
    0

    Oh! Blake,Blake,you never told us why the LTTE’s bluff was never called and the agreed plan to save Tamil civilians never materialized. Was it that the viley witch of your boss did not agree to it or the diaspora did not agree to pressure LTTE to let the people go?or is it both? Now knowing very well that SLG was agreeable to your plan to save the civilians and knowing that your plan to save them never materialized nad that was not the SLG fault,you now lead the parade in Geneva like the typical obedient servant of your viley witch boss!
    Why do’nt you include in your Geneva resolution about the oppotunity to save many lives,including that of LTTE higher up, that was wasted when the LTTE blundered the surrender opportunity with rediculous demands.

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