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Cablegate: Local Reaction to Deputy Secretary's Csis

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 05 COLOMBO 000270

SIPDIS

FOR SA, SA/INS, SA/PD, D, P

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV PTER CE LTTE
SUBJECT: LOCAL REACTION TO DEPUTY SECRETARY'S CSIS
ADDRESS


1. On 2/14 Deputy Secretary Armitage made major policy
remarks regarding "Sri Lanka: Prospects for Peace" while
speaking at the Center for Strategic and International
Studies in Washington. The challenge for the GSL and the
LTTE, Armitage said, is to create "tangible signs of
progress...." He called on both parties to accept pluralism
within Sri Lankan society and to protect the human rights of
all Sri Lankiness, and he noted that the USG had pledged $8
million in humanitarian support for Sri Lanka and $1 million
for defining.

2. The Deputy Secretary's remarks resonated well in weekend
news coverage and continued to reverberate into the week.
The electronic media, radio and TV, government-owned and
independent, began using post distributed materials in their
2/16 broadcasts. The English weekenders carried coverage on
2/16 under headlines such as "U.S. holds out prize to
tigers" (SUNDAY ISLAND, opposition English weekly), "If
Tigers renounce violence ... U.S. prepared to consider
lifting ban on LTTE" (SUNDAY LEADER, pro-UNP English
weekly), "U.S. tells LTTE to prove commitment to peace"
(SUNDAY OBSERVER, government-owned English weekly), and "No
two armies or two navies in united Lanka, Armitage tells
LTTE" (SUNDAY TIMES, independent English weekly). Although
most headlines admonished the LTTE, coverage itself was more
balanced. For example the OBSERVER wrote: "Armitage has
urged the LTTE to publicly and unequivocally renounce
terrorism and prove that its days of violence are over....
[He] further said that no individual, no single political
party could carry the burden of the peace process," which
required "concerted effort by the President, the Prime
Minister and the other parties."

3. On Sunday the government-owned Sinhala weekly, SILUMINA,
carried the story under the misleading headline "If LTTE
puts a complete stop to terrorist activities they will be
off America's list of banned organizations." The Tamil
press was also active. "Government and Tigers may have to
make difficult decisions" and "Armitage stresses that both
parties should continue to observe cease fire" said the
SUNDAY THINAKURAL (independent Tamil weekly). "PM and
President should work together for the progress of peace
efforts" said the SUNDAY VIRAKESARI (independent Tamil
weekly). And the government owned Tamil daily, THINAKARAN,
said that "America is studying the possibilities of the
deproscription."

4. On Monday (2/17) the Sinhala press weighed in more
heavily. DIVAINA (opposition Sinhala daily) reproduced the
Embassy's press materials from 2/15. DINAMINA (government-
owned Sinhala daily) gave the story front-page coverage
under the headline "America's deputy state secretary pledges
fullest support for a permanent solution." And LANKADEEPA
(independent Sinhala daily) reproduced the "No two armies or
two navies" coverage that had appeared in its sister
weekender, the SUNDAY TIMES.

5. Monday saw the first of five editorial replies to
Armitage's remarks. Under the headline "The LTTE and the
U.S. ban" the ISLAND complained that "statements such as
`The Tigers need to honour the restrictions and conditions
[of] the ceasefire,' though welcome, are inadequate." They
are also confusing, said the ISLAND, given the USG's larger
war on terrorism. A more balanced editorial in Monday's
DAILY NEWS, "Peace and world opinion," picked up on the
Deputy Secretary's remarks about "mov[ing the LTTE] beyond
the terror tactics of the past": "These observations serve
to remind us that ... this is not an exercise where the
government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE can engage in a manner
where international norms and standards can be ignored....
The Tigers have emerged from the ... jungles to occupy a
place on the world stage because they have made a public
commitment to peace. But their actions on the ground must
match their words. They have to realize that the world --
and indeed the rest of Sri Lanka -- needs to see a genuine
transformation of the LTTE if their acceptance into the
world community is to be guaranteed." And the MIRROR
(independent English daily), under the headline "Timely
warning," wrote: Sri Lankans "should certainly be grateful
to the U.S. for telling the LTTE in clear precise terms what
they should do to carry forward the ongoing peace process to
a successful conclusion."

6. Monday also saw the appearance of two Sinhala editorials.
Under the headline "Making the Peace effort happen -- Both
parties responsible," the government-owned DINAMINA worried
about "a few Sinhalese and Tamils who await the collapse of
the peace process." And LANKADEEPA (independent Sinhala
daily) said that "Armitage's statement very clearly defines
the real situation required for permanent peace in the
country.... However, it is evident that this ideal
situation does not prevail.... Although a national peace
day has been declared and the MOU is one year old, many
unfortunate incidents in the north have led the government
to put the forces on alert.... It is obvious that both
parties should work hard for peace. Any violation by either
party is a betrayal, but recent incidents show that the
Tigers need to make more sacrifices...."

7. The full text of the Deputy Secretary's remarks, as
downloaded from the Washington File, appeared in the DAILY
NEWS, the SUNDAY ISLAND, and the SUNDAY OBSERVER.

8. Full texts of English-medium editorials follow.

8.a "Timely Warning," DAILY MIRROR (independent English
daily)

Whatever the misgivings and objections Sri Lankans, in
common with other peace-loving peoples throughout the world
have against the United States Government's war preparations
to punish Iraq, they should certainly be grateful to the US
for telling the LTTE in clear precise terms what they should
do to carry forward the ongoing peace process to a
successful conclusion.

Deputy Secretary of State of the US Government, Richard
Armitage speaking to a gathering at the center for Strategic
and International Studies in Washington has said that the
LTTE must publicly and unequivocally renounce terrorism and
prove that its days of violence are over. He has added that
the US will never accept the tactics of terror regardless of
any legitimate Tamil aspirations. Armitage has not failed to
hold out hope for the LTTE in return for its renunciation of
violence. He has said that if the LTTE can move beyond the
terror tactics of the past and make a convincing case
through its conduct and its actual actions that it is
committed to a political solution and to peace, the US will
consider removing the LTTE from the list of terrorist
organizations.

This exhortation from the US, comes at a time when certain
major incidents and minor skirmishes between the army and
LTTE cadres show a trend of escalating, indicating a
tendency to destabilize the peace process, fears about which
even Japan's peace envoy, Yasushi Akashi has expressed.
Although the worst fears of a resumption of war has so far
been averted mainly because of the sound conflict-resolution
mechanism built into the process and the effectiveness of
the international safety net that restrains the LTTE from
indulging in crime and violence as they did before, threats
to the process continue. That is why the exercise of
preserving the peace process is compared to a walk on a
tight rope which is pulled in two directions. On one side is
the LTTE torn between their dream of creating their Eelam
and the compulsions and pressures exerted by external forces
and on the other side by those opposed to giving any
concession to the Tamil community and also persons
supporting the peace process, but having suspicions and
misgivings about the LTTE's commitment to peace through a
negotiated settlement.

The task is, therefore, onerous and as Armitage points out,
no individual or single party could carry the burden of the
peace process and that it should really be a concerted
effort by the President, the Prime Minister and the other
parties. Armitage gives due credit to President Kumaratunga
for her peace plan of 1995 which, he says, was an important
precursor to the progress that is being made today, while
commending the Wickremesinghe Government for continuing to
take bold steps in the direction of peace.

However, it is the lack of sustained cooperation between the
President representing the main partner in the PA and the
Prime Minister representing the UNP, that has now emerged as
a major obstacle to forging an acceptable formula for the
settlement of the national issue. President Kumaratunga who
oscillates between high statesmanship and low party politics
and confuses the public seem to contribute more than anyone
else to put the peace process in great jeopardy.

It is, however, creditable that while her approach
oscillates between extremes like a pendulum, her major PA
partners, the LSSP and CP are maintaining their consistent
approach. Ironically redoubtable peace propagandists of
yesteryear who paraded street dramas and organized Sudu
Nelum shows are today conspicuously absent from the scene or
supporting the hardliners on the approach to peace.
This indeed is nothing but the continued display of naked
hypocrisy and political opportunism that pushed this country
to the present impasse. The LTTE, at least now, should see
the realities of the present situation and quickly adjust
themselves to pursuing the democratic path in which there is
no room for violence and suppression of the rights of others
living in the areas which they have brought under their
control by force and terrorism. Meanwhile, the government
should also make every effort to get the opposition parties
more actively involved in the peace process because without
their cooperation the expected constitutional reforms for
power sharing will remain unrealized. And the inevitable
result of the failure will be to push the nation to the jaws
of war once again

8.B. "Peace and World Opinion," DAILY NEWS (government owned
daily)

The comments on the Sri Lankan peace process made by the
Deputy Secretary of State of the United States, Richard L.
Armitage comes as no surprise to those who have watched the
international community's attitude towards our tentative
progress towards finding a long-term solution to the
national question.

Armitage has called on the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam
to make clear that it has renounced violence so that it can
be freed of the proscription the U.S. has imposed on the
organization. He also asked the Tigers to honour their
pledge to end the recruitment of children into the ranks of
its fighting forces and respect the democratic and human
rights of all peoples living in the North and East.

These comments are consistent with what Armitage told the
November Peace Support meeting held in Oslo in the presence
of the LTTE's theoretician Anton Balasingham.

They are also in line with the international community's new
resolve to act against terror in all forms.

The U.S. and other states, which have banned the LTTE, did
not simply lift their proscription orders because the Sri
Lankan state decided to temporarily lift its ban to engage
the peace talks with the Tigers. They are awaiting concrete
results, and proof that the Tigers have really changed their
former ways before they can un-ban the organization.

Armitage in his recent remarks made in the U.S. has said
that his country would consider lifting the ban when it is
convinced the LTTE has "moved beyond the terror tactics of
the past."

These observations serve to remind us that the peace process
in Sri Lanka is not being conducted in isolation. This is
not an exercise where the government of Sri Lanka and the
LTTE can engage in a manner where international norms and
standards can be ignored.

The Lankan process is being closely monitored by friendly
countries and on the way the parties to the conflict would
have to satisfy the international community that the final
result would lead to creating a stable, secure, pluralistic
democracy in Sri Lanka.

In this context recent incidents in the North have been
unfortunately responsible for raising tensions between the
government forces and the LTTE.

The horrific incident in the seas of Delft where a standoff
between the Navy and Tiger cadres ended with four LTTE men
committing suicide in full view of the Ceasefire monitors
was the most serious. The LTTE admitted it was their fault
that the stand off ended in such a tragedy, but to this date
has not offered a reasonable explanation as to why they were
transporting an anti-aircraft weapon in a clandestine manner
through government-controlled waters.

The second serious incident was the deliberate provocation
of the security forces personnel at Manipay when LTTE cadres
including some women created an incident that required the
Police to disperse them using a riot squad.

The LTTE has also used this tension to pressure the Jaffna
Municipality to defer the opening of the reconstructed
library, which was to be a symbol of healing between North
and South. An angry council resigned en-masse after the
incident, alleging that they had been put "under severe
pressure," by the LTTE.

These incidents are unfortunate and place a heavy strain on
the progress towards peace.

The sad part is that the government and the LTTE have
progressed well at the head table of the peace talks, but
the commitments made at the negotiations and the spirit that
the talks are being conducted in does not seem to have
percolated to the ground where tensions have risen.

It seems also to indicate that the LTTE cadres on the ground
are still in a confrontational mode and are not geared for
peace and accommodation.

This is what Armitage and other international observers of
the peace process have been constrained to note in recent
days.

The Tigers have emerged from the Vanni jungles to occupy a
place on the world stage because they have made a public
commitment to peace. But their actions on the ground must
match their words.

They have to realize that the world -- and indeed the rest
of Sri Lanka -- needs to see a genuine transformation of the
LTTE if their acceptance into the world community is to be
guaranteed.

8.C. "The LTTE and the U.S. ban," ISLAND (opposition daily)

Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage has told a
conference in Washington that if the Liberation Tigers of
Tamil Eelam moved beyond terror tactics and proved it was
committed to peace, "the United States will certainly
consider removing the LTTE from the list of Foreign
Terrorist Organizations."

"The LTTE," he has said, "is going to have to take a number
of difficult steps to demonstrate that it remains committed
to a political solution." He has -- going by what is
reported of his speech -- stopped short of specifying what
these `difficult steps' are. These steps ought to be
elaborated on by the U.S. now that it has evinced so keen an
interest in Sri Lanka's conflict. Statements such as "The
Tigers need to honour the restrictions and conditions that
the ceasefire -- and future negotiations -- set on their
arms supply," though welcome, are inadequate given the
enthusiasm of the U.S.

Mr. Armitage has said, "The United States should be playing
a role in concert with other nations, committing our human
and financial resources to settling this conflict."

Having committed itself pro tanto, the U.S. should leave no
room for ambiguity as to what it really expects of the LTTE
in keeping with the U.S. strategy for battling terrorism,
which according to President Bush's new National Strategy
for Combating Terrorism, `requires direct and continuous
action against terrorist organizations to initially disrupt
them, over time degrade them, and ultimately to destroy
them.'

President Bush's position is: "The more frequently and
relentlessly we strike the terrorists across all fronts,
using all the tools of statecraft, the more effective we
will be. The United States, with its unique ability to
build partnerships and project power, will lead the fight
against terrorist organizations of global reach. By
striking constantly and ensuring that terrorists have no
place to hide, we will compress their scope and reduce the
capability of these organizations."

We are sad to have to say that this policy of the U.S. is
not reflected in the modus operandi of the international
community involved in Sri Lanka's conflict with the
blessings of the U.S. in handling LTTE terrorists. The
World Bank having delegates of terrorists at its meetings,
foreign diplomats meeting and dining with wanted LTTE
leaders etc. run counter to the U.S. strategy. In Oslo last
December, Mr. Armitage himself was a participant at an aid
group meeting held in support of the Sri Lanka government
and the very LTTE proscribed in the U.S.!

Meanwhile, the Sri Lankan government has gone to such an
extent to appease the terrorists that it is now paying
`taxes' to the terrorists through government agencies like
the CWE and the BMC. The terror leaders who masterminded
devastating attacks on the country's only international
airport less than two years ago are not only whisked in and
out without Customs checks together with their baggage but
also treated to parties at the airport and given VVIP
chopper rides to and from their jungle hide-outs.

The LTTE enjoys all this without having budged an inch from
its terror project. Last December in Oslo the LTTE had the
courage, according to Reuters, to turn down a call by none
other than Mr. Armitage himself, who is said to be holding
out a prize to the Tigers, for it to eschew violence. Anton
Balasingham reiterated this position in Berlin the other
day.

Be that as it may, the U.S. banned the LTTE on its soil in
the interest of its own national security and not that of
Sri Lanka's. And it has every right to do whatever it
wishes to with the ban. The impact of deproscription of the
LTTE in the U.S. on Sri Lanka will cause little concern to
Washington in deciding when to lift the ban. The proteases,
`If the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam moved beyond terror
tactics and proved it was committed to peace,' will then be
conveniently dropped and the apodosis will just take effect.
The same is true of Britain and other international do-
gooders.

The LTTE will be Sri Lanka's burden in the end. We have
seen how India considered Sri Lanka's conflict as its burden
in the 1980s and went to the extent of thrusting a solution
on Colombo, which failed to work. Norway which was involved
in the peace process in the 1994-95 period was nowhere to be
seen after the LTTE blew the peace process sky high until
the LTTE itself agreed to talk peace again in 2001.

This is the harsh reality that the government of Sri Lanka
must not lose sight of in trying to resolve the conflict
with the help of foreigners.

WILLS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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