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Cablegate: Special Media Reaction: Assassination of Foreign

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
SUBJECT: Special Media Reaction: Assassination of Foreign
Minister Kadirgamar - Media openly blames LTTE, but urges
public restraint

Reftel: Colombo 1425 and previous

1. (U) Summary: Foreign Minister Kadirgamar's assassination
has been the overwhelming focus of all media since late
Friday night, with homages and retrospectives repeatedly
broadcast on TV stations and printed in the press. Despite
the public anger and shock over the slaying, however, the
media have urged public calm and have refrained from calls
for the government to break the cease-fire with the LTTE.
End summary.

2. (U) Eulogies to Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar,
assassinated late Friday night, covered the front pages of
all Saturday newspapers and dominated all television and
radio broadcasts over the weekend and Monday. Sunday's
papers and broadcasts discussed the logistics of the killing
and subsequent investigation, and both government and
independent media speculated openly about the LTTE's
culpability. In the August 14 Sunday papers, the Government
and President clearly indicted the LTTE for the Foreign
Minister's assassination. By Monday, English and Sinhala
broadcasts condemned the slaying but repeated the
President's assurance that the government would not break
the ceasefire. Government owned and mainstream independent
media organizations, including those with a Sinhala
nationalist proclivity, reiterated the President's call for
the public to remain restrained and unprovoked by "extremist

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3. (U) Television broadcasts presented Foreign Minister
Kadirgamar as an internationally respected statesman, an
unbiased diplomat unquestionably devoted to a peaceful,
united Sri Lanka. Independent and state-operated television
stations prominently aired condolence messages from
Secretary Rice and other foreign dignitaries, along with

footage of Kadirgamar's most memorable speeches. On Saturday
evening, U.S. Charge' d'Affaires James Entwistle appeared
live (after the Indian High Commissioner) on state-owned
Rupavahini television to commemorate Kadirgamar and
emphasize the Secretary's condemnation of the murder. State
owned Rupavahini broadcast a memorial song with footage of
the Foreign Minister meeting with Secretary Rice and former
Secretary Powell.


4. (U) English and Sinhala editorialists celebrated the two-
time Foreign Minister as a brilliant statesman murdered by
terrorists. All called for the government and the public to
honor his legacy by pursuing a lasting peace wholeheartedly,
though Sinhala nationalist papers implored the
"international community," particularly the Norwegian peace
facilitators, to admit the LTTE is an armed terrorist
organization, not an army of freedom fighters. The
government owned Daily News contended, "The state, as
opposed to terrorists who understand only the language of
violence and bloodshed best, cannot afford to abandon the
common good as represented in the Ceasefire Agreement and
act on deadly impulses," but, "we hope the LTTE would not
make the tragic mistake of interpreting the civilized
restraint of the State of Sri Lanka as weakness." The
Island expressed concern the LTTE would murder anti-LTTE
Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) leader V. Anadasangaree
next, and urged he be well protected.

5. (U) While independent Tamil papers refrained from
lauding the assassination, most reminded their readers that
Kadirgamar, an ethnic Tamil,led the campaign to make the
LTTE a banned terrorist organization in the U.S. and the
U.K. Information Officer spoke to pro-LTTE Jaffna daily
Uthayan editor M.V. Kaanamylnathan who stated the editorial
staff of Uthayan and sister pro-LTTE paper Sudar Oli regret
the murder but believe the "Tamil cause" is stronger without
Foreign Minister Kadirgamar. As reported in mainstream
English and vernacular papers, the LTTE denied
responsibility for the assassination and claimed it would
have no effect on the peace process. However, independently
owned Daily Mirror printed a translation of an editorial

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