Colombo Telegraph

WikiLeaks: ‘US Can Hold Me Personally Responsible In The Future’ FM Bogollagama To US

By Colombo Telegraph

“In his meeting with Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama, Assistant Secretary Boucher emphasized that it was vital that the forthcoming devolution package reassure moderate Tamils about their future place in Sri Lankan society and guarantee that their rights are protected. Boucher warned that the U.S. government is closely monitoring the resolution of human rights cases and the plight of the Internally Displaced Persons of eastern Sri Lanka. He underlined that cases before the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights must go beyond the investigative stage and produce substantive results with culprits held accountable. Bogollogama assured Boucher that the ‘code of conduct’ to prevent human rights abuses will be announced on 6 April. He acknowledged that mistakes have been made while resettling Internally Displaced Persons but pledged that the U.S. government ‘can hold me personally responsible for any future imbalances.’” the US Embassy Colombo informed Washington.

Rohitha Bogollagama

A Leaked “CONFIDENTIAL” US diplomatic cable, dated April 5, 2007, updated the Secretary of State regarding a meeting US Assistant Secretary has had with Sri Lankan Foreign Minister. The Colombo Telegraph found the related leaked cable from the WikiLeaks database. The cable was classified Political Counselor Ted Osius.

The US Embassy wrote “Boucher declared that the U.S. government was seriously concerned about ongoing reports of human rights abuses, continued attacks on Tamils in the east by the Karuna faction, and the forced resettlement of Internally Displaced Persons. He emphasized that the Tamils in eastern Sri Lanka must receive the benefits of good governance and cautioned Bogollagama that Washington was watching the situationclosely. Bogollagama asserted that he had discussed recent government human rights initiatives with Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa at length and an Administrative Declaration will be announced on 6 April. He noted that a ‘code of conduct’ on human rights would be reissued for law enforcement and all high-profile cases of missing persons and disappearances will be dealt with. He also explained that the 2006 government declaration established procedures for arrests including informing next-of-kin, informing the Human Rights Commission within forty-eight hours of detentions and providing commission access to detainees. He said that the Human Rights Commission was in place already but needed to become operational. He stressed that if the administrative declarations were not followed it will be raised in the political arena. Boucher reminded Bogollagama that, while it was important to conduct inquiries, the U.S. government wanted to see results and accountability for the culprits.”

“In defense of Sri Lanka’s resettlement of the 81,000 Internally Displaces Persons in the east, Bogollagama noted that their resettlement was endorsed by the international community. He conceded that the Internally Displaced Persons taken from Batticaloa to Trincomalee two weeks ago was ‘a mistake by government agencies and sent the wrong signals.’ He explained that he consulted with Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa about the incident and stopped the resettlement. Admitting that the government was trying to address some resettlement imbalances, he pledged, ‘Hold me personally responsible in the future.’” the US Embassy further wrote.

We below give the relevant part of the cable;

VZCZCXRO6073
OO RUEHBI RUEHCI RUEHLH RUEHPW
DE RUEHNE #1643/01 0951338
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 051338Z APR 07
FM AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4582
INFO RUCNSTF/TERRORISM FINANCE PRE NOTIFICATION COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHGG/UN SECURITY COUNCIL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING PRIORITY 5895
RUEHLM/AMEMBASSY COLOMBO PRIORITY 9448
RUEHKA/AMEMBASSY DHAKA PRIORITY 9576
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD PRIORITY 2798
RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL PRIORITY 4253
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 3289
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 1113
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO PRIORITY 4751
RUEHCG/AMCONSUL CHENNAI PRIORITY 9798
RUEHKP/AMCONSUL KARACHI PRIORITY 7351
RUEHCI/AMCONSUL KOLKATA PRIORITY 9429
RUEHLH/AMCONSUL LAHORE PRIORITY 3852
RUEHBI/AMCONSUL MUMBAI PRIORITY 8976
RUEHPW/AMCONSUL PESHAWAR PRIORITY 4422
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI PRIORITY
RHMFISS/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION

01 OF 02 NEW DELHI 001643

SIPDIS SIPDIS E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/05/2027

TAGS: PREL PGOV PTER CE IN

SUBJECT: SRI LANKA’S FOREIGN MINISTER ASSURES BOUCHER THAT HUMAN RIGHTS ISSUES WILL BE ADDRESSED AND REQUESTS MORE SUPPORT

Classified By: Political Counselor Ted Osius for reasons 1.4 (B, D)

¶1.(C) SUMMARY: In his meeting with Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama, Assistant Secretary Boucher emphasized that it was vital that the forthcoming devolution package reassure moderate Tamils about their future place in Sri Lankan society and guarantee that their rights are protected. Boucher warned that the U.S. government is closely monitoring the resolution of human rights cases and the plight of the Internally Displaced Persons of eastern Sri Lanka. He underlined that cases before the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights must go beyond the investigative stage and produce substantive results with culprits held accountable. Bogollogama assured Boucher that the “code of conduct” to prevent human rights abuses will be announced on 6 April. He acknowledged that mistakes have been made while resettling Internally Displaced Persons but pledged that the U.S. government “can hold me personally responsible for any future imbalances.”

¶2.(C) Reflecting on the recent Tamil Tiger air attack, he said that Sri Lanka has requested three additional radar units from India. He remarked that Sri Lanka required port and container security assistance, as the Tamil Tigers’ arms, plane parts, and drugs are being smuggled through Colombo’s port. Bogollagama also asked Boucher to follow up on a request for an additional coast guard cutter originally made to Assistant Secretary of Defense Lawless. END SUMMARY.

¶3.(C) Assistant Secretary Richard Boucher opened a 3 April meeting with Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama by inquiring about the state of Sri Lanka’s air defenses and the government’s plans to deal with the Tiger air threat. Bogollagama claimed that the three radars provided by India require down time every eight hours, and the government was investigating if the one installed at Katunayake air base was down during the Tigers’ air strike. He explained that radar efficiency levels were being discussed and that Sri Lanka had requested an augmentation of one additional 3-D radar and two more 2-D radars from India. Boucher requested that Bogollagama keep the U.S. apprised of Sri Lanka’s increased air defense plans.

¶4. (C) Turning to the political situation in Sri Lanka, Boucher asked for an update on the Sri Lanka Freedom Party’s power sharing proposals. Bogollagama said that the package would be presented to the All Party Conference immediately upon President Rajapaksa’s return from the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation in New Delhi. He stated that the proposal included a parliamentary system with a premiership and claimed that “the consensus is there to address the problem politically. “However, the international community needs to influence the Tigers to get to the table too.” Boucher countered that a credible power sharing proposal is a vehicle to peace talks, and it can weaken political support for the Tigers. However, he noted, any successful political plan must assure the Tamil population that they have a secure and equitable stake in society and are accorded civil rights guarantees.

¶5.(C) Boucher declared that the U.S. government was seriously concerned about ongoing reports of human rights abuses, continued attacks on Tamils in the east by the Karuna faction, and the forced resettlement of Internally Displaced Persons. He emphasized that the Tamils in eastern Sri Lanka must receive the benefits of good governance and cautioned Bogollagama that Washington was watching the situation NEW DELHI 00001643 002 OF 002 closely. Bogollagama asserted that he had discussed recent government human rights initiatives with Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa at length and an Administrative Declaration will be announced on 6 April. He noted that a “code of conduct” on human rights would be reissued for law enforcement and all high-profile cases of missing persons and disappearances will be dealt with. He also explained that the 2006 government declaration established procedures for arrests including informing next-of-kin, informing the Human Rights Commission within forty-eight hours of detentions and providing commission access to detainees. He said that the Human Rights Commission was in place already but needed to become operational. He stressed that if the administrative declarations were not followed it will be raised in the political arena. Boucher reminded Bogollagama that, while it was important to conduct inquiries, the U.S. government wanted to see results and accountability for the culprits.

¶6.(C) In defense of Sri Lanka’s resettlement of the 81,000 Internally Displaces Persons in the east, Bogollagama noted that their resettlement was endorsed by the international community. He conceded that the Internally Displaced Persons taken from Batticaloa to Trincomalee two weeks ago was “a mistake by government agencies and sent the wrong signals.” He explained that he consulted with Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa about the incident and stopped the resettlement. Admitting that the government was trying to address some resettlement imbalances, he pledged, “Hold me personally responsible in the future.”

MULFORD

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