1 October, 2020

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WikiLeaks: We Can’t Take Our Troops To Court For Firing On Civilians’ In The Course Of Battle – Fonseka To Blake

By Colombo Telegraph

“Reiterating a message he shared with the Foreign Secretary, the Ambassador stressed to Army General Fonseka that when members of the security forces commit human rights abuses, ‘It is important that they be punished. It would be helpful if you could tell us about these measures, even privately. My government is concerned that it appears that people are never punished.’ He added that abductions and killings after curfew in Jaffna, which the public understandably ties to the security forces or protected paramilitaries, ‘erase the good will’ of the government’s efforts to provide food and supplies to civilians.” the US Embassy Colombo informed Washington.

Sarath Fonseka

The Colombo Telegraph found the related leaked cable from the WikiLeaks database. The cable is classified as “Confidential” and recounts a meeting the US Ambassador had with Army Commander Major General Sarath Fonseka on January 23 . The cable was written on January 24,2007 by the US Ambassador to Colombo, Robert O. Blake.

The Ambassador wrote; “Fonseka replied, ‘Everyone is concerned with human rights. The security forces have been warned and they know they have no choice’ but to comply with human rights guidelines. The SLA ‘tries not to interfere in police investigations. On a professional level, we have warned our troops, but we can’t take them to court for firing on civilians’ in the course of battle.”

Placing a comment Blake wrote; “Emboldened by yet another military victory, the military and the Foreign Secretary believe they can use war to entice the Tigers to accept a hypothetical political solution not yet on offer from a consensus of southern parties. It was encouraging that Fonseka and Kohona both implied that the GSL would not undertake a military offensive in the north now that Vakarai is over. General Fonseka and Foreign Secretary Kohona seem to have heard our human rights message and that of other members of the international community, a message we hope that they will bear in mind as they undoubtedly continue a military campaign against the LTTE.”

Read the cable below for further details;

VZCZCXRO6540
OO RUEHBI
DE RUEHLM #0140/01 0240853
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 240853Z JAN 07
FM AMEMBASSY COLOMBO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5225
INFO RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN PRIORITY 0143
RUEHKA/AMEMBASSY DHAKA PRIORITY 9826
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD PRIORITY 6768
RUEHKT/AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU PRIORITY 4829
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 3470
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI PRIORITY 0534
RUEHNY/AMEMBASSY OSLO PRIORITY 3562
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO PRIORITY 2639
RUEHCG/AMCONSUL CHENNAI PRIORITY 7337
RUEHBI/AMCONSUL MUMBAI PRIORITY 5071
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA PRIORITY 1739
RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI PRIORITY
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 COLOMBO 000140 

SIPDIS 

SIPDIS 

DEPARTMENT FOR SCA/INS 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/24/2017
TAGS: PGOV PREL PTER PHUM MOPS CE
SUBJECT: SRI LANKA: ARMY COMMANDER CONSIDERS CLEARING
TIGERS FROM THE EAST 

REF: A. COLOMBO 134 

     ¶B. COLOMBO 127 

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

¶1. (C) Summary.  Ambassador Blake met with Army Commander
Major General Sarath Fonseka on January 23 following the Sri
Lanka Army's (SLA) victory in the eastern Tiger (LTTE) strong
hold of Vakarai (ref B). Fonseka estimated that the LTTE had
been significantly weakened by two and a half months of
combat in the east but that the LTTE might launch an
offensive in the north, toward Jaffna.  The Ambassador urged
military restraint in support of the peace process and the
development of a culture of human rights accountability
within Sri Lanka's increasingly engaged military.  Fonseka
projected that resettlement of civilians in Vakarai could
begin in a matter of weeks.  End summary. 

Victory at Vakarai
------------------ 

¶2. (C) Ambassador met with Army Commander Major General
Sarath Fonseka on January 23 following the Sri Lanka Army's
(SLA) victory in the eastern Tiger (LTTE) strong hold of
Vakarai (ref B). Fonseka estimated that the SLA had killed
over 500 Tiger cadres in two and a half months of combat and
that the LTTE had been significantly weakened in the east.
Air raids had killed several key LTTE commanders, such as
elite forces leader "Veeman."  Tiger cadres left heavy
weapons, ammunition and vehicles as they fled Vakarai into
jungle areas.  In the coming months the SLA would remove
several hundred LTTE cadres that remain in the Topagala
jungle near Trincomalee, he said. 

¶3. (C) Ambassador noted the importance of resettling the
displaced persons from the Vakarai areas as soon as possible
and inquired what the Army's plans were.  Fonseka agreed this
was important.  He said the Army would need to undertake some
demining first, but suggested that resettlement would begin
in as little as two to three weeks.  Ambassador asked if this
included the IDPs from ampur.  Fonseka said it did, with the
exception f those from the villages immediately south of the
Trincomalee harbor, where the GSL intends to estalish a
Special Economic Zone. 

¶4. (C) The Armycommander speculated that the LTTE might
launch n offensive in the north, toward Jaffna, Mannar or
Vavuniya.  The Tigers would have to "sacrifice 100 cadres"
of "1500 to 2000" remaining island-wide in order to take
Jaffna: "The LTTE will want a reakthrough in the North, but
Prabhakaran will tink twice about it; he will not be able to
maintin control of Jaffna."  The Army Commander did notrule
out a security forces campaign in the North, where
Prabhakaran "is preparing human shields" by stopping 350,000
civilians from leaving Kilinochchi and the rest of the
Tiger-controlled "Vanni." 

"LTTE Under Pressure,
Exercise Restraint"
------------------- 

¶5. (C) Fonseka speculated that LTTE would continue to seek
VIP and economic targets in Colombo "to try to press the GSL
into peace talks.  But the GSL is already talking about peace
talks," he said, smiling.   Ambassador Blake reiterated the
United States support for the GSL's fight against terrorism
but stressed: "We hope that to the greatest extent possible
you will exercise restraint since our primary strategic
objection is to encourage a resumption of sustained peace
talks on the basis of a credible devolution proposal."  The
Ambassador added: "The LTTE is under pressure.  They know the
situation in Jaffna is getting better." 

Military Offensive for Peace 

COLOMBO 00000140  002 OF 002 

---------------------------- 

¶6.  (C) Ambassador noted to Foreign Secretary Palitha Kahona
during a January 22 meeting (ref A) the military's recent
gains in Vakarai and elsewhere in the east (ref B) and
inquired whether the military campaign would continue to the
North.  Kohona answered:  "Military offensives should be seen
in the context of putting pressure on LTTE supporters to
understand that a victory on the battlefield is not possible.
 There is no military solution nor any plan to pursue an
offensive in the north.  It is far better to return to the
negotiating table."  He added that the GSL was planning
livelihoods and development projects in the North and East in
order to win the hearts and minds of predominantly Tamil
civilians.  The GSL remained very much committed, he said, to
the successful outcome of the All Party Representative
Committee process and a political solution to the conflict. 

No Choice But to
Respect Human Rights
-------------------- 

¶7. (C) Reiterating a message he shared with the Foreign
Secretary, the Ambassador stressed to Army General Fonseka 

SIPDIS
that when members of the security forces commit human rights
abuses, "It is important that they be punished.  It would be
helpful if you could tell us about these measures, even
privately.  My government is concerned that it appears that
people are never punished." He added that abductions and
killings after curfew in Jaffna, which the public
understandably ties to the security forces or protected
paramilitaries, "erase the good will" of the government's
efforts to provide food and supplies to civilians. 

¶8. (C) Fonseka replied, "Everyone is concerned with human
rights.  The security forces have been warned and they know
they have no choice" but to comply with human rights
guidelines. The SLA "tries not to interfere in police
investigations.  On a professional level, we have warned our
troops, but we can't take them to court for firing on
civilians" in the course of battle. 

¶9. (C) COMMENT:  Emboldened by yet another military victory,
the military and the Foreign Secretary believe they can use
war to entice the Tigers to accept a hypothetical political
solution not yet on offer from a consensus of southern
parties.  It was encouraging that Fonseka and Kohona both
implied that the GSL would not undertake a military offensive
in the north now that Vakarai is over.  General Fonseka and
Foreign Secretary Kohona seem to have heard our human rights
message and that of other members of the international
community, a message we hope that they will bear in mind as
they undoubtedly continue a military campaign against the
LTTE.
BLAKE
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Latest comments

  • 0
    0

    Killing unarmed non combatants is no battle. Therefore as you stated the massacre of all those who surrendered obviously as planned before, after burying all their heavy artilery, with white flags should be taken to task. The innocent five children on the Trincomalee beach who had no firearms whatsoever but the Forces tried to introduce hand granades should also be taken to task, including the ones responsible for the massacre of the seventeen Aid Workers. You as the Army Commander should have the guts and decency to expose what you wrote in that affidavit of yours, when you thought that you will be killed by your partners in crime the Rajapaksas.

    • 0
      0

      Gamini I followed u every comment of yours…hope u real sinhala budhist. Fight your corner for justice for everyone in srilanka…

      • 0
        0

        R.KOVIAN

        “Gamini I followed u every comment of yours…hope u real sinhala budhist. Fight your corner for justice for everyone in srilanka…”

        Please note we don’t want any Sinhala/Buddhist to fight his/her corner for justice.

        We want humanity to struggle for all people and Gamini is part of the wider humanity.

        • 0
          0

          I see you’ve managed to find an unsecured wireless network in the recovery ward, vedda. I hope your procedure went smoothly. I did hear the surgeons didn’t have much to work with down there and had to call for some magnifying glasses and tweezers :-)

    • 0
      0

      Learn to read English first. SF is talking about being unable to prosecute soldiers accused of killing civilians in the course of battle. Are you suggesting that civilians aren’t killed in that manner, Gamini? He’s not talking about deliberate atrocities such as the ones you mention.

      • 0
        0

        David, by end April 2009 the Govt. Forces had the entire LTTE cadre with VP cordened and sorrounded at Puthukudiirppu, sans any heavy weaponry. After an aerial attack, the rest were rounded up. Isapriya and Balachandran were part of the arrested. Some had their hands tied at the back as seen in the photographs. So these Tamils were not caught in any cross fire or died at the battle front, for the Forces to deny responsibility. Leave alone English for your inability to understand Common sense.

        • 0
          0

          You fool, the cable is dated January 2007. Are you that stupid that you talk about events from 2009, TWO YEARS AFTER SF’S COMMENT. Obviously, SF is talking about past or current events, not the future.

          Nevertheless, my point (which your befuddled brain can’t grasp) is that SF isn’t excusing the atrocities you mention, he’s talking about something else. Not everyone is obliged to discuss your own pet peeves just because you can’t find anyone to talk to about it.

          • 0
            0

            David the cable may be issued in 2007, but what has been pointed out by me is what happened subsequently, to show SF cannot hold on to his previous view. If you cannot understand this and is trying to evade responsibility, it is a pity. Every Forces person guilty should be dealt with, including you.

  • 0
    0

    Great find by CT. The killer quote is SF saying that in 2007, GoSL already knew that approx 300,000 civilians lived in what remained of Eelam and that VP would use them as a massive hostage shield. Hmmmm…

    The Army Commander did not rule out a security forces campaign in the North, where Prabhakaran “is preparing human shields” by stopping 350,000 civilians from leaving Kilinochchi and the rest of the Tiger-controlled “Vanni.”

  • 0
    0

    It is hilarious how Blake was expecting Fonseka to virtually ‘report’ to him!

    After the decimation of the Tamil terrorists, these foreign parasites lost the controls they had over Sri Lankans… and the hurt seem to be simply unbearable! In fact… they are sobbing 24/7!

    As for us Sri Lankans, when dealing with these powerful, deadly parasites, we must copy the exact selfish policies they themselves practice and also apply the lesson learned from that time-tested tale from Aesop, about the Bedouin and the camel.

  • 0
    0

    I find it hilarious that the State Dept was giving finger-wagging lectures to SF about respecting human rights when at the same time, the Pentagon was running its own (outsourced) counter-insurgency program in Iraq complete with torture chambers, death squads, abductions etc.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/mar/06/pentagon-iraqi-torture-centres-link

  • 0
    0

    “General Fonseka and Foreign Secretary Kohona seem to have heard our human rights message ….”

    Yes, they did hear it and went onto massacre thousands of tamil civilians and bomb hospitals and safe zones. They also bore it in mind when they murdered white flag waving surrendees.

    Blake was foolish not to realise that he was expecting a little too much from the barbaric Sinhala army composed mostly of rapists, child molesters, thugs and mass murderers.

    • 0
      0

      I thought only Blake was hurt. Alas… Still there seem to be some leftover members of the TTD, the Tamil Terrorist Diaspora, as well, weeping for their evaporated agents of terror, the Tamil terrorists.

      Bring ’em on again if you can… Because we Sri Lankans usually celebrate our lives best in the battlefield, laying them down for MotherLanka!

    • 0
      0

      Well that’s what happens when your brave freedom fighters hide in hospitals and behind women and little kids, wave white flags while forcing small children and women to fight. Keep your crocodile tears.

      • 0
        0

        Touched a raw nerve eh, Blacker?

        Weren’t you part of the marauding band of murderers and rapists at one time?

        • 0
          0

          Raw nerve? It seems to be your raw nerves that have been touched to the point that you have to react with a personal attack :D is it because you helped fund and support the murderers and child abusers who were hiding behind old women and little children while telling the world that they were Brave Freedom Fighters and Defenders of the Tamils? ROFL.

          • 0
            0

            I never supported the LTTE or any of its murderous acts, ethnic cleansing, holding civilians as human shield etc, etc.

            What I find appalling is the blanket defence of the Sri Lankan military by intelligent and educated Sinhalese who call themselves Buddhists. The Sri Lankan military, like the LTTE, has committed many atrocities but to claim that the Sri Lankan military did not murder civilians is laughable and stupid.

            Sarath Fonseka knew what was happening and on whose orders the atrocities were committed. I would say Gota is the biggest culprit here but being the commander of the army Sarath Fonseka is also culpable for what his forces did.

            • 0
              0

              Piranha says:

              “by intelligent and educated Sinhalese who call themselves Buddhists.”

              Show me one such person I will completely change the entire island.

  • 0
    0

    Please read what he said. He said troops cannot be punished for civilians killed during battles. NOT THE USA; NOT UK NOT ANYONE will do that. Civilians caught in crossfires will die. In the fog of battle specially when the enemy uses civilians as human shields and fire from behind them, civilians are likely to die in the cross fire and retaliatory fire. NOT one nation has investigated their soldiers for that. Hell, the US troops fired and killed hundreds of Iraqis like that and even otherwise; for example at Check points jittery Americans fired at anyone who looked suspicious. He is not talking about war crimes and deliberate killings and executions of civilians. Please look at his quote before ranting.
    QUOTE:
    On a professional level, we have warned our troops, but we can’t take them to court for firing on civilians’ in the course of battle.”:QUOTE

    This is the standard operating procedure for all soldiers in all armies. Hell look at Normandy and the first days of the Allied invasion and see how many towns were bombed and razed to the ground. Why did Allies firebomb Dresden? Civilians died in Vietnam too.

    That is the cruelty of war. Investigate and punish the acts of war crimes but you cannot fault soldier for firing in the heat of battle. NO ONE DOES. Show me how many nations have done this.

  • 0
    0

    Well done General Fonseka. We have peace now and more importantly we now know how to bring peace. The journey to peace buried some people with war.

  • 0
    0

    Sarath Fonseka is a liar. He earlier threatened to expose those who ordered the massacre of surrendering LTTE fighters and when he got into hot waters for this he swiftly changed his tune.

    This man knows what atrocities his soldiers committed on the tamil civilians but is scared of losing public support if he came out with the truth. There is no difference between him and Rajapaksa or any of the other Sinhala leaders since independence.

    • 0
      0

      Pianha, you are absolutely right. If only his affidavit could be published, people like David Blacker will have no legs to stand on.

  • 0
    0

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy
    https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2/

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