Politics & Current Affairs

Tamil Tiger defeat impossible 'without our friends in Washington' - FM Mangala

The foreign minister of Sri Lanka has confirmed that the support of United States of America was key to  defeating the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in a war that ended with the massacre of at least 70,000 civilians.

Tamil Tigers being proscribed in the European Union in 2006 was 'the biggest blow to the LTTE,' said Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera in an open letter to the country's former president Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Mangala Samaraweera had previously held the foreign ministry portfolio under Rajapaksa from 2005 to early 2007, before been appointed as foreign minister by President Maithripala Sirisena in 2015.

"It was also thanks to my predecessor Lakshman Kadirgamar that the LTTE was proscribed in the United States in 1998 and the UK in 2001. And it was during my tenure that I, along with the help of our friends in Washington aimed the biggest blow to the LTTE by listing them in the 27 countries of the EU and Canada. By 2007 with the LTTE banned in the US, EU and Canada, its funding and procurement network was severely affected," Samaraweera says in his open letter.

Condoleeza Rice and Nicholas Burns

Challenging the country's former president Mahinda Rajpaksa's regime accusing the US of being LTTE sympathisers, he says, "if not for the support of the US State Department, in particular Condoleezza Rice and Nicholas Burns, achieving a unanimous consensus among the EU’s twenty seven countries would have been impossible".

Condoleezza Rice was the US secretary of state and Nicholas Burns was the third highest ranking official in the George W Bush administration.

Before been appointed as the secretary of state Rice was the US national security adviser.

'Mastermind' Ranil

During that period, Ranil Wickremesinghe who was Sri Lanka's prime minister under President Chandrika Kumarathunge 'was the mastermind responsible for the two main causes of the LTTE’s ultimate defeat,' says Samaraweera.

Both acts were performed when Sri Lanka was negotiating a peace deal following a Cease-Fire Agreement (CFA) with the LTTE in 2002 February.

One was laying the ground for the signing of 'the Access and Cross Services (ACSA) defence agreement with the United States that enabled Sri Lanka to access specialised equipment, training and information such as coastal radars'.

The other was facilitating the breakaway of Tamil Tiger Eastern commander Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan widely known as Karuna.

"This defection gave the army tremendous intelligence and understanding of the LTTE’s fighting methods," says Foreign Minister Samaraweera.

In 2013, an eminent panel of international judges of the Rome-based Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal, unanimously ruled that 'the UK and USA were to be guilty of complicity in the crime of genocide, including - complicity by procuring means, such as weapons, instruments or any other means, used to commit genocide.'

Channel 4 video 'authentic'

Mangala Samaraweera also says that crimes committed during the war exposed by the British broadcaster Channel 4 were carried out by members Sri Lanka armed forces following 'orders from above'.

"In fact, according to the information we have the video footage is not only authentic but was given to Channel 4 by members of the armed forces who themselves were deeply shocked at some of the acts carried out as a result of orders from above."

The first ever report broadcast by Channel 4 that contained video footage showing summary executions by Sri Lanka soldiers was made available by JDS in 2009.

Sri Lanka authorities have so far maintained that its military did not commit war crimes or crimes against humanity.

Channel 4 had also extensively reported of Sri Lanka military deliberately targeting civilians seeking refuge within a government designated No Fire Zone in early 2009.

Military court

In 2013, a military court of inquiry (COI) cleared the army of shelling the NFZ.

However, the COI led by retired Army Chief Chrishanthe De Silva is yet to publish its findings on its investigations into the exposure of summary executions shown in the JDS video broadcast by Channel 4.

A UN probe in 2010 verified that the video footage was authentic and called for a war crimes investigation.

© JDS