Cablegate: Sri Lanka: Tamil Tigers Siphon Off Part Of
OO RUEHBI RUEHLMC
DE RUEHLM #0830/01 1630323
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
O 120323Z JUN 07
FM AMEMBASSY COLOMBO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6228
INFO RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN PRIORITY 0455
RUEHKA/AMEMBASSY DHAKA PRIORITY 0178
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RUEHKT/AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU PRIORITY 5266
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RUEHNY/AMEMBASSY OSLO PRIORITY 3886
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RUEHCG/AMCONSUL CHENNAI PRIORITY 7746
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Tuesday, 12 June 2007, 03:23
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 COLOMBO 000830
EO 12958 DECL: 06/11/2017
TAGS PTER, PHUM, MOPS, PGOV, CE
SUBJECT: SRI LANKA: TAMIL TIGERS SIPHON OFF PART OF
INTERNATIONAL RELIEF FUNDS
Classified By: Ambassador Robert O. Blake, Jr., for reasons 1.4(b,d).
1. (S) SUMMARY: In late May PolOff met the XXXXXXXXXXXX described the LTTE’s complete control of all activities that take place in Tiger-controlled territory, including forced conscription and the use of the Tamil Rehabilitation Organization (TRO) to extract money from XXXXXXXXXXXX. XXXXXXXXXXXX also criticized the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission’s (SLMM) complacency in the face of coercive techniques the LTTE employs to maintain control of its northern stronghold. On June 8, after meetings with representatives from UNICEF, UNHCR and the World Food Program to discuss how these organizations fund projects operating in the Vanni, Emboffs confirmed that in some circumstances INGOs are required to work with TRO to accomplish their project goals. END SUMMARY.
2. (C) On May 21, PolOff met XXXXXXXXXXXX private organization that provides assistance to refugees. XXXXXXXXXXXX described the LTTE’s “one person per family” forced conscription program. XXXXXXXXXXXX stated that the Tigers require at least one person between the ages of 18 and 35 per family to fight for the LTTE, apparently believing that if the “draftees” are at least 18 years old, the international community cannot criticize the Tigers for requiring military service. XXXXXXXXXXXX stated that the LTTE provides written notice to draftees with orders to report to a particular military office for service. If they fail to report, they are taken forcibly, often at night.
3. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXX noted that the average age of LTTE “recruits” is now 17 years old. He confirmed, however, XXXXXXXXXXXX allegation of forced conscription of those 17 years old and older, stating that if a person failed to leave the Vanni before he or she turned 17, there was an extremely high likelihood of being drafted by the Tigers.
4. (S) XXXXXXXXXXXX accused the SLMM of turning a blind eye to LTTE forced conscription of Tamil citizens living in the Vanni. XXXXXXXXXXXX said XXXXXXXXXXXX told XXXXXXXXXXXX that “all countries are entitled to institute the draft to protect their borders.”
5. (C) We have received other credible reports of even more draconian conscription methods used by the Tigers. Some families are reportedly being told to provide two recruits as the LTTE prepares for war. The Tigers may threaten families living in the Vanni or elsewhere in Sri Lanka if their children do not return from jobs abroad, such as in the Persian Gulf, to take up arms.
TRO FUNDING LTTE OPERATIONS
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6. (S) XXXXXXXXXXXX told us the LTTE had ordered INGOs to provide all project funding through local NGOs, which are managed collectively by the Tamil Rehabilitation Organization (TRO). For example, XXXXXXXXXXXX receives money in its bank account from its headquarters or from international donors, then deposits the money into a separate bank account operated by a local NGO. The local NGO’s director is always a member of TRO, as are many other members of the local NGO staff. The TRO representative withdraws the money from the local NGO’s account, provides a cut to the LTTE, and distributes the rest to accomplish the particular project XXXXXXXXXXXX is funding with that donation. XXXXXXXXXXXX then oversees the implementation of the program, but does not control any distribution of funds after they are transferred into the local NGO’s account.
7. (S) XXXXXXXXXXXX said that XXXXXXXXXXXX alleges that it does not comply with the LTTE’s funding demands, but in reality, it does comply by removing its funding one additional step. According to XXXXXXXXXXXX, the UN provides funding to international voluntary organizations,XXXXXXXXXXXX who then comply with the LTTE’s funding demands, thus providing XXXXXXXXXXXX with a measure of distance and “plausible deniability.” XXXXXXXXXXXX stated that in addition to XXXXXXXXXXXX, XXXXXXXXXXXX of the XXXXXXXXXXXX organizations XXXXXXXXXXXX operating in the Vanni are complying with the LTTE procedures. XXXXXXXXXXXX
8. (C) One June 8, Emboffs met with XXXXXXXXXXXX. XXXXXXXXXXXX stated that UNCHR did not work through TRO representatives in the Vanni, but could not say whether INGOs did so. XXXXXXXXXXXX confirmed that although the UN does not work through the TRO, it does provide some funding to Is and local NGOs. XXXXXXXXXXXX stated that he was aware of times when XXXXXXXXXXXX were asked to work with local program managers who are likely representatives of the LTTE, but he was unsure whether this requirement extended to funding arrangements. XXXXXXXXXXXX stated that the LTTE needs food supplies so badly that the WFP has successfully rebuffed LTTE attempts to levy taxes on items brought into the Vanni. He added that although the WFP does not provide financial assistance to the Tigers, he knows that several XXXXXXXXXXXX are required to provide financial resources to the LTTE through the TRO in order to accomplish their objectives in the Vanni.
9. (S) COMMENT: According to XXXXXXXXXXXX, other organizations have not complained about LTTE interference in their operations because they suffer from “a blinding case of clientitis.” However, one could also argue that amounts to a simple acceptance of the realities of working in LTTE-controlled territory. XXXXXXXXXXXX anecdotal evidence of TRO serving as a conduit to channel funds to the LTTE strikes us as authentic. Although Post was unable to confirm XXXXXXXXXXXX allegations with the same level of detail that XXXXXXXXXXXX described, XXXXXXXXXXXX and XXXXXXXXXXXX both acknowledged that XXXXXXXXXXXX
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have at least some involvement with the LTTE through the TRO. Our sense is that the money derived from these charities probably goes to fund the LTTE administration in the territory it occupies, rather than arms purchases. The LTTE’s internal revenues are likely minuscule compared with what it raises abroad from the Tamil Diaspora. It is probably these overseas revenues that are used to purchase arms for import into the Vanni. BLAKE