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Cablegate: Special Media Reaction: December 19 Statement By

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

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 COLOMBO 002136

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR S/ES, INR/MR, PA
SA/INS (CAMP, SIM, GOWER) SA/PD (SCENSNY, ROGERS,
PALLADINO); SSA/PAS

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED

E.O. 12958:N/A
TAGS: PHUM KPAO PTER EAID OIIP PREL CE LTTE
SUBJECT: Special Media Reaction: December 19 Statement by
the Tokyo Donors Conference Co-Chairs

1. (U) Summary: The statement by the Tokyo Donors Conference
Co-chairs after their December 19 meeting in Brussels
sparked banner headlines and lead stories of all print and
electronic media on December 21. However, only the
mainstream independent Daily Mirror and its sister Sinhala
paper, Lankadeepa, carried all elements of the statement.
Government-owned and Sinhala nationalist media played up
condemnation of the LTTE and ignored the portion of the
statement asking the government to disarm paramilitary
groups. Tamil and pro-LTTE media, by contrast, reported the
Co-chairs' condemnation of LTTE violence but emphasized the
government's requirement under the terms of the Ceasefire
Agreement to disarm paramilitaries threatening the LTTE.
State-run and independent TV stations all pushed the
statement as the lead or second stories on evening news
broadcasts. End Summary.

2. (U) All government-owned media carried banner headlines
expressing the Co-chairs' condemnation of LTTE violence.
Even the state run Tamil paper, Thinakaran, emphasized LTTE
atrocities in a lead story titled, "Peace efforts should be
accelerated, Co-chairs command the LTTE to stop violence."
Like government newspapers, independent Sinhala nationalist
media made no mention of the Co-chairs' call for the
government to disarm paramilitaries. The nationalist English-
language Island and its sister Sinhala paper, Divaina,
bannered, "Co-chairs warn LTTE of serious consequences,"
adding that while these were not specified, they might
include the full designation of the LTTE as a terrorist
organization in the EU. Independent Sinhala Lakbima
bannered, "Co-Chairs emphasize the importance of adhering to
the peace process, renouncing violence."

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3. (U) Only the independent Daily Mirror and its sister
Sinhala paper, Lankadeepa (both generally slanted towards
the opposition United National Party), briefly mentioned the
co-chairs' call for the government to disarm paramilitary
groups. In a lead story titled, "Co-chairs growl at
Tigers," the article noted two main points of the statement,
including LTTE violence and the government's responsibility
to handle paramilitaries, both in its subtitle and within
the article. Independent Sinhala Lankadeepa led with, "A
strong warning from the Tokyo Co-Chairs: Grave consequences
if violence does not end, solution should be a united Sri
Lanka."

4. (U) On the other hand, independent Tamil and pro-LTTE
media, while reporting on the co-chairs' condemnation of
Tiger violence, emphasized the requirement for the
government to disarm paramilitaries. The Tamil media
specifically named the Karuna faction and the anti-LTTE
Eelam People's Democratic Party as the parties in question.
Having carried portions of the Co-chairs' statement first on
December 19, pro-LTTE Tamil Net (English) headlined, "GoSL
handling of paramilitaries, LTTE violence, key issues for
Sri Lanka peace, say Co-Chairs." The article reported the
co-chairs "recognized that activities of the paramilitary
groups are among the causes for the deteriorating situation
and urged `the Government to ensure that such groups cease
their paramilitary activities, as a demonstration of its
commitment to a peaceful way forward.' They also called on
the LTTE `to put an immediate end to their on-going campaign
of violence and again urge the LTTE to demonstrate their
commitment to the Ceasefire Agreement and the peace
process,' and warned, `Failure to demonstrate a willingness
to change would not be without serious consequences.'"
Independent Thinakkural, generally sympathetic toward the
LTTE, led with "Talks should commence immediately without
any delay or prevarication - Co-chairs." Pro-LTTE Tamil
daily Sudar Oli took an even more slanted approach, leading
with: "The activities of the paramilitary forces are also
cause for the deterioration of the situation: Co-chairs."
More mainstream Tamil flagship paper, Virakesari, led with,
"Government and the LTTE should immediately commence talks
on the implementation of the CFA - Co-chairs."

5. (U) All television stations prominently carried the
statement in their December 20 afternoon and evening news
programs. National Rupavahini television, in its fifth
evening story, reported, "The European Union, the United
States and several other countries called on the LTTE to put
an immediate end to their ongoing campaign of violence and
again urged them to demonstrate their commitment to the
peace process," and noted "serious consequences" if the LTTE
fail to demonstrate willingness to change. In its third
story, state owned ITN television news reported, "The Co-
Chairs urge the LTTE to halt hostilities in the North and
East," highlighting the LTTE-enforced boycott of the
November 17 Presidential election. Independent Maharaja
Television (MTV) and its sister vernacular stations led with
reports of the tense situation in Jaffna, adding that the co-
chairs had condemned recent LTTE-instigated violence. In a
second story specifically on the statement, MTV headlined,
"Co-Chairs call for settlement based on a united Sri Lanka;
welcome Japan's offer to host peace talks," displaying the
Embassy's press release of the statement on screen.

6. (SBU) Comment: The Government-owned and Sinhala
nationalist media predictably focused on the elements of the
Co-chairs' statement which found fault with the LTTE.
Independent Tamil and pro-LTTE media fairly reported the co-
chairs' call for the LTTE to end recent waves of violence,
but gave more prominence to the paramilitaries line than did
the original co-chairs' statement. We expect editorial
comment to follow in the days ahead, and will report
accordingly. End Comment.


ENTWISTLE

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