Monday, September 05, 2011

'Co-Chairs kept mum after Rajapaksa acknowledged shelling safe zone' : Wikileaks

JDS Features

Even as Sri Lanka is waging a diplomatic and propaganda war to-date to conceal the concerted shelling by the military into the no-fire-zone and systematic killing thousands of Tamil civilians during the final months of the war, Presidential sibling and top Minister Basil Rajapaksa has ‘acknowledged’ to the members of the donor Co-Chairs that its military was, in fact, carrying out shelling into the safe zone, a latest release of the Wikileaks cable has revealed.

“The Norwegian Ambassador commented that in two recent meetings with Rajapkasa he acknowledged military forces were shelling into the safe zone, but was not comfortable discussing the subject,” the Wikileaks cable has quoted the then US Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Robert O. Blake, as stating in a diplomatic note to his immediate superiors in the US on the Co-Chairs meeting in Colombo on 5 March, 2009. Mr.Blake is now serving as the Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs.

"Defensive shelling"

“Rajapaksa was not as forthcoming to the Ambassador’s concerns about credible reports of shelling of the safe zone on several successive days recently. Rajapaksa lamely pointed out that GSL forces had come under fire from LTTE artillery within the safe zone and they had to defend themselves,” it said.

“Ambassador pointed out such retaliatory shelling had killed many civilians and was a reversal of the government's own commitment not to use heavy weapons,” the Wikileaks has quoted Ambasssor Blake who has hosted the Co-Chiar meeting as stating in his diplomatic note.

Knowing credibly well that the Sri Lankan government troops were carrying out long range artillery barrage into the no-fire-zone which was created by the government itself, and thousands of Tamil civilians were getting killed and maimed daily, the members of the Co-Chairs, such as the US, Japan, Norway and the European Union, decided not to issue even a strong statement highlighting and condemning the acts of serious war-crime that was taking place just few hundred kilometres away from where they were meeting.

Agreed to stay mum

“Ambassador (Blake) hosted a meeting of Co-Chair Ambassadors on March 5 to take stock of actions since the February 3 Co-Chair statement and consider what further actions we should recommend to capitals. Ambassadors agreed not to recommend an additional Co-Chair statement at this time since the GSL is responding to some, but not all, our concerns,” the Wikileaks cable has quoted Ambassador Blake as saying in his diplomatic note to Washington.

“We further agreed to recommend that Ambassadors from countries with significant Tamil Diaspora communities meet to coordinate messaging to the Tamil Diaspora to, among other things to bring additional pressure to bear on the LTTE to release the civilians trapped in the north,” Blake, however, has said.

Japan & Norway

According to the Wikileaks cable, although the EU has argued that capitals should issue a strong, coordinated statement “to express our strong concern about the potential humanitarian ‘catastrophe’, the Japanese and Norwegian Ambassadors “argued that the government was making an effort to respond to most of our humanitarian concerns with the exception of its recent shelling of the safe zone”.

“They argued that a critical public statement now might set back Basil's efforts to provide more food. Ambassadors agreed to continue to individually deliver strong messages directly to the government on the major humanitarian concerns. Ambassadors agreed we should defer consideration of a joint statement until the middle of next week to gauge GSL sincerity in delivering food supplies,” Ambassador Blake has been quoted as saying his note.

What the Wikileaks cable has clearly revealed was the fact that if the government of Sri Lanka and its security forces have committed serious war crimes and crimes against humanity, the powerful members of the international community, have virtually aided and abetted such actions in the island nation by all means.


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