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Cablegate: Media Reaction: Co-Chairs Statement On Jvp

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

UNCLAS COLOMBO 002031

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR D, INR/MR, PA
SA/INS (CAMP, DEAN) SA/PD (SCENSNY, ROGERS, STRYKER);
SSA/PAS

E.O. 12958:N/A
TAGS: PREL EAID KPAO PHUM PTER OIIP CE LTTE
SUBJECT: Media Reaction: Co-chairs statement on JVP
provokes divided response in Sri Lankan media

REFS: Colombo 1997

1. (U) SUMMARY: The December 15 statement by the Tokyo
donors conference co-chairs on the JVP's agitation against
Norway and the peace process provoked a widespread and
sharply divided response from the Sri Lankan media.
Independent English and Tamil media covered the story
factually with favorable editorials, while government-run
and Sinhala media outlets gave the statement somewhat less
prominence and less favorable editorial response. Coverage
of the statement, however, served to reinforce among the
public the co-chairs' support for the peace process and
concern over the lack of cohesion within the GSL. END
SUMMARY.

2. (U) The December 15 statement (see Reftel) by the co-
chairs of the Tokyo donors conference received widespread
coverage in all electronic media outlets, with both state-
run and independent broadcasters making it their lead story
in all three local languages. Radio broadcasters also gave
the statement prominent coverage in their noon and evening
news broadcasts December 15, as did several Internet sites
independent website Lanka Academic noted that the "co-
chairs had told the President to bring her Marxist ally to
heel," whereas pro-Tiger website TamilNet reproduced the
statement verbatim without editorial comment).

3. (U) Both the English and vernacular print media also
featured the statement prominently in their December 16
dailies. Independent English Daily Mirror bannered (12/16):
"JVP action shocks donors." Independent English daily
Island (12/16), normally sympathetic to JVP positions,
headlined "U.S., EU, Japan lambaste JVP for opposing peace
process; JVP dismisses allegation." Coverage of the
statement and the JVP response carried into the weekend,
with the independent Sunday Leader (12/19) carrying news of
the statement in an editorial titled "Madam, your slip is
showing," which included the statement" ...If Kumaratunga
is engulfed by a passionate obsession of any kind, it is
only to stay in power for the rest of her life." On the
other hand, the independent Sinahala Sunday Divaina
editorial (12/19) titled "We are also bewildered at that
bewilderment" took a sharply negative view of the statement
and questioned why the co-chairs had not seen fit to
criticize the LTTE for their ceasefire violations in the
same way they had criticized the JVP.

4. (U) COMMENT: Perhaps revealing the fragile state of the
peace process, the media reacted forcefully and prominently
to the co-chairs' statement, lining up along predictable
sides. The JVP's response to the Ambassador, which the
party released to the press, took him to task for not
criticizing the LTTE in the statement. We expect that the
Ambassador's response to the JVP, in which he reminded them
that the U.S. had on many occasions publicly denounced LTTE
actions, will also find its way into the media. END
COMMENT

Lunstead

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