Cablegate: Media Play: Ambassador Wills Visits Jaffna

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




E.O. 12958: N/A


1. Ambassador Wills' 3/11 visit to Jaffna (see reftel) was
noted in segments of the English and Sinhala press, and
garnered substantial and positive coverage in the Tamil

2. English and Sinhala dailies. Under the front-page
headline "Wills says 'peace at hand'" the DAILY MIRROR
(independent English daily) said: "U.S. Ambassador Ashley
Wills yesterday urged the Jaffna People to be calm and
patient till next year to witness lasting peace and
economic growth. The ambassador made this appeal when he
met officials of local NGOs. Mr. Wills was also scheduled
to meet Jaffna military commander Sarath Fonseka to discuss
the issue of High Security Zones." Similar coverage
appeared on the front page of DINAMINA (government-owned
Sinhala daily) under the headline "'Dawn of peace is
certain; people in the North should wait patiently' --
American Ambassador says in Jaffna." Excerpts: "... Wills
said that Sri Lanka would have eternal peace through the
current peace process.... He expressed this view at a
conference [attended by] Jaffna MPs and NGO officials. The
Ambassador said that peace that would be ushered in before
the end of this year ... and that the country would then
reap more of the benefits of peace." DINAMINA noted that
other issues discussed included "creating a conducive
environment for civilians to resettle in the HSZs, fishing
activities, and farmers' and media issues...."

3. Tamil coverage. Understandably, coverage was heaviest
in the Tamil press. Excerpts follow:

- SUDAR OLI (independent Tamil daily): At the meeting MPs
and other representatives explained to him the living
standards of the Jaffna people, HSZs issues, and problems
surrounding the resettlement of IDPs. "Although one year
has passed since the signing of the MOU, normalcy has not
returned to Jaffna and its people," [local leaders] said.
They also said that "fishermen are affected very badly.
Our golden lands have been turned into HSZs and our people
are denied their resettlement and farming rights.... When
the guns are silent are these HSZs necessary?"

In reply, the Ambassador said: "Government is facing
problems in resettlement. I am telling you that the HSZs
will be removed step by step and the displaced will be
resettled. Therefore the people should be a bit patient.

- THINAKURAL (independent Tamil daily): ... Wills said as
the peace talks between the Government and the Liberation
Tigers progress, HSZs will be removed, normalcy will
return, and people will begin to resettle. He further
stated: "Permanent peace will return only if the Tamil
people of the North and East are patient. It is impossible
to find an immediate solution to a problem that has existed
for 20 years. This can only be achieved step by step. For
this the government and the Liberation Tigers should work

- THINAKARAN (government-owned Tamil daily): "There is
fervent hope that Sri Lanka will achieve lasting peace --
People of Jaffna should be patient" said Ambassador Ashley
Wills.... He also said that the people should see more
benefits in the second year of the ceasefire agreement."


© Scoop Media

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