Sri Lanka – Ambassador reports Sri Lankan President responsible for “alleged war crimes”

Posted on 08/02/2011 by

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Via WikiLeaks.
WikiLeaks Staff, 1 December 2010, 19.00 GMT. Original article here.

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his family are responsible for alleged war crimes against the Tamil, according to a cable sent by US ambassador to Sri Lanka Patricia Butenis.

Butenis said complicity in alleged war crimes by the president and leader of the opposition was stalling progress in launching investigations into the country’s civil war.

The long running conflict between the government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE, also known as the Tamil Tigers, was ended in May 2009 after the Sri Lankan army defeated LTTE leaders in an area known as the “no fire zone”.

The cable, dated 15 January 2010, updated the Secretary of State on war crimes accountability following the end of the country’s long and bloody conflict.

Ambassador Butenis noted there had been some limited progress in investigating potential war crimes, but noted:

“There are no examples we know of a regime undertaking wholesale investigations of its own troops or senior officials for war crimes while that regime or government remained in power.

“In Sri Lanka this is further complicated by the fact that responsibility for many of the alleged crimes rests with the country’s senior civilian and military leadership, including President Rajapaksa and his brothers and opposition candidate General Fonseka.”

With regard to alleged LTTE war crimes, Butenis noted:

“Most of the LTTE leadership was killed at the end of the war, leaving few to be held responsible for those crimes. The Government of Sri Lanka (GSL) is holding thousands of mid- and lower-level ex-LTTE combatants for future rehabilitation and/or criminal prosecution. It is unclear whether any such prosecutions will meet international standards.”

The revelations coincide with a visit by President Rajapaksa to the United Kingdom. Rajapaksa, who has been in the UK since Monday, is due to meet with UK Defence Secretary Liam Fox.

Rajapaksa was also scheduled to speak at the Oxford Union on Thursday until the university issued a statement cancelling the event on Wednesday afternoon. The statement cited “security concerns” due to the large number of protestors expected to picket the event.

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