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Cablegate: Media Play - Iraq

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

UNCLAS COLOMBO 000550

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR INR/R/MR, I/RW, I/REC; PA
SA/INS (FOR JWALLER); SA/PD (LJIRWIN, LSCENSNY,
WREINCKENS); SSA/PAB

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KPAO OPRC KMDR OIIP CE
SUBJECT: MEDIA PLAY - IRAQ

1. Sri Lanka's English-medium front pages found room for
only two war-related headlines on 4/1: "U.S. pounds
Baghdad, battles to the south," said one; "U.S. in first
major clash with Republican guard" said the other. More --
and more strident -- headlines appeared on the vernacular
front pages, however. "Iraq Information Ministry heavily
damaged by missile attack, "Missile attacks Saddam's son's
palace," and "America faces the Iraqi super force for the
first time" said the Sinhala dailies, while the Tamil
dailies led with headlines such as "Stiff resistance from
Iraqi forces," "Four thousand suicide bombers ready to face
coalition forces," and "U.S. Commanders say 'No hurry in
capturing Baghdad.'"

2. Under the headline "Double standards on peace, the
editors of the DAILY NEWS (government-owned English daily,
islandwide circulation) wondered why some Sri Lankans are
simultaneously pro-peace in Iraq and "deafeningly silent"
regarding peace in Sri Lanka itself. Excerpts:

"... war involves killing and loss of life and this stark
fact has to be bemoaned regardless of where it occurs.

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"What leads us to these thoughts is the emergence of a
perplexing mindset among some sections of local opinion on
the question of peace in Sri Lanka. While these sections
would, rightly, denounce the loss of life in the war in
Iraq, they tend to be deafeningly silent on the moral
correctness in ending the conflict in Sri Lanka by peaceful
means.

"In other words, the very same sections are some of the
most vociferous critics of the current peace process. A
clear instance of double standards -- to say the least. It
is this mental anomaly which led Prime Minister Ranil
Wickremesinghe to observe recently at a rally in Matara
that: 'Some sections among our people are against the war
in Iraq, but the same people are against the peace process
in Sri Lanka.'"

3. LANKADEEPA (independent Sinhala daily, islandwide
circulation) writes an editorial to ask "What's the
objective of war in Iraq war?" LANKADEEPA's answer:
American imperialism. Excerpts:

"The U.S. has now launched a new imperialism. It is now
the richest and most powerful nation on earth and won't let
any other nation come close....

"Whatever the U.S.'s ulterior motive, the war is against a
very helpless population, which suffered enough during the
first Gulf War, which has gone homeless, suffered
embargos.... What will become of them?"

Wills

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