A leaked confidential US diplomatic cable written by the US Embassy Colombo has raised questions about the true nature of the drama staged by the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) when they left the Chandrika Kumaratunga led coalition government.
At that time the JVP said that they had quit in protest at government’s plans for a tsunami aid deal with the LTTE which could help efforts to set up a Tamil state.
According to a leaked US diplomatic cable, the US Embassy Colombo informed Washington; “Vijitha Herath, the JVP Minister of Culture and National Heritage, complained to us that President Chandrika Kumaratunga was ignoring his party’s recommendations to develop a multipartisan consultative mechanism to inform the reconstruction process. Instead, he charged, she had appointed Ministers and party members–some of whom are not even MPs–from her own Sri Lankan Freedom Party (SLFP) to all decision-making positions. Not a single JVP Minister or MP occupied any key position, Herath said, even though many represent tsunami-affected districts.”
The ambassador wrote; “The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), the Government’s contentious coalition partner, boycotted the February 9 Parliamentary debate on tsunami reconstruction. The JVP leadership cited dissatisfaction with the minor role the Government of Sri Lanka (GSL) has assigned it in reconstruction planning as the reason for their absence. The JVP was the only no-show at the lively debate. Even MPs from the pro-Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) Tamil National Alliance (TNA), who have consistently accused the GSL of short-changing Tamil areas in the distribution of aid, took part.”
Ambassador Lunstead wrote; “He accused the President and other SLFP leaders of using the well-funded reconstruction process to serve their own personal and political agendas. When asked why JVP leaders deemed it better to boycott the debate than to argue their concerns before Parliament, Herath responded that people might mistakenly assume, since the JVP is part of the government, that it endorses GSL reconstruction plans. Because the JVP had not been consulted in any of the important decisions, “we can’t take responsibility”–or blame–for how the process unfolds, he emphasized. By not taking part in the debate, the party hoped to make that distinction clear to the general public, he indicated.”
“The JVP’s treatment is particularly unfair in light of its energetic efforts to help those affected by the tsunami, Herath asserted, adding that the party has raised nearly $12 million on its own at home and abroad. This aid is being distributed to all affected communities, he continued. The LTTE fears that JVP philanthropic activities in the east will increase the party’s popularity there, especially among Tamils, Herath claimed, and has thus fabricated stories about the JVP hijacking aid intended for Tamil communities. (Note: Jayantha Wijesekera, the Tamil-speaking, rabble-rousing JVP MP for Trincomalee, told us that the LTTE is particularly concerned about his appeal and has thus threatened him on several occasions.) When asked how the JVP viewed potential GSL/LTTE cooperation on tsunami relief, Herath repeated the standard JVP line: Cooperation is all right in principle as long as the Tigers do not take advantage of it–which, of course, he implied, they will” he further wrote.