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03COLOMBO1284 2003-07-23 11:04:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Colombo
Cable title:  

In meeting, radical JVP party leader flays

Tags:   PGOV PINS PINR CE NO 
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1. (C) SUMMARY: In a July 23 meeting, Tilvin Silva,
leader of the radical JVP party, asserted that the GSL's
recent proposal on forming an interim structure in the
north/east would give the Tigers too much power. He
also claimed that the Norwegian facilitators were biased
toward the Tigers. The JVP remained committed to
forming an alliance with the president's party. Based
on Silva's comments, the JVP has not climbed down a wit
from its long-standing anti-peace process views. END
SUMMARY.



2. (C) MEETING WITH RADICAL PARTY LEADER: Polchief and
poloff met July 23 with Tilvin Silva, the General
Secretary of the Janantha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP)

SIPDIS
("People's Liberation Front"). The meeting took place
at the JVP's headquarters in a large house in a non-
descript Colombo suburb. Fitting with its radical
image, the party's offices were modestly furnished (no
bourgeois elements here!) and festooned with large
pictures of "revolutionary" heroes, including Marx,
Lenin, and Guevara. There was also a large picture of
Rohana Wijeweera, the JVP's founder, looking more than a
bit like Che thanks to a beard and beret with a red star
on it. (Note: Wijeweera, who led failed insurrections
against the government in the 1970's and 1980's, was
slain by security forces in November 1989. Through the
1990's, the JVP, which now professes a commitment to
democracy, has steadily gained in elections and now
holds 16 seats in Parliament. End Note.) While he
clearly understands some English, Silva spoke in Sinhala
throughout the meeting. (Note: The JVP is an
overwhelmingly Sinhalese party and its officials make a
conscious choice to speak Sinhala, the "mother tongue.")



3. (C) HITTING OUT AT THE PEACE PROCESS: Silva used
much of the meeting to flay the government's effort to
achieve a negotiated settlement with the Liberation
Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). While sticking to his
typically low-key style, Silva exuded a strong sense of
purpose in the process, indicating no lessening in the
JVP's long-standing hard-line stance against the peace
track. (Note: For bio-data on Silva, who served time
in prison during the 1988-89 JVP uprising -- see Ref B.)



4. (C) Silva, specifically, criticized the GSL's recent
proposal setting out modalities on forming an interim
structure in the north/east. (Note: Per Ref A, the
Norwegian government facilitators provided the proposal
to the LTTE last week and the Tigers continue to review
it.) Silva claimed that the proposal provides the
Tigers too much power in running the north/east. In
addition, the proposal did not provide enough
protections to minority communities, such as the Muslims
and the Sinhalese. While underscoring his party's
support for an end to the war, Silva said peace could
only come about through the disarmament of the LTTE,
which had created an "illegal" military force. In
response, polchief underscored U.S. support for the
peace process, urging the JVP to work with the
government on this key issue of national importance.



5. (C) NORWEGIANS COME IN FOR SOME FLAK: Regarding
Norway's role, Silva had no/no words of support. The
JVP, he said, believed that the Norwegians were no
longer acting as a "facilitator," but were increasingly
acting as a "mediator," recommending items to the
parties and, thus, trying to "direct" their course of
action. This was unacceptable to an independent
country. Moreover, the Norwegian government and the
Norwegian-run Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) had
generally shown themselves to be pro-LTTE. As an
example of this, he said the SLMM should not have
recommended that the government recognize the legitimacy
of the "Sea Tigers," the LTTE's naval force.
(Note: Silva got this wrong: the SLMM, reacting to
several violent confrontations at sea, had earlier this
year offered to work with the GSL and the Tigers on ways
to avoid incidents. The SLMM never said the government
should "recognize" the Sea Tigers, however.) Polchief
remarked that the JVP should reconsider its view of the
GoN effort; the Norwegians really wanted what was best
for Sri Lanka and were in no way biased toward the
Tigers.



6. (C) JVP STILL WANTS AN ALLIANCE: When queried,
Silva replied that the JVP still wanted to ally itself
with the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), the key
constituent element in President Kumaratunga's People's
Alliance (PA). Shooting down reports to the contrary,
Silva said there had been no delay in forming the
alliance: the two parties were still negotiating a
joint framework, which should be completed soon. The
major factor propelling the JVP's desire to form the
alliance, he continued, was the need to bring down the
United National Party (UNP) government, which was
"ruining" the country. If a SLFP-JVP alliance was
reached and took power, the JVP would seriously consider
assuming ministerial positions. (Note: This view re
ministries is new. The PA and the JVP formed a pact in
late 2001 in which the JVP backed the faltering PA
government in Parliament. The JVP refused to assume
ministerial positions at that time. The pact later
lapsed.)



7. (C) COMMENT: Based on Silva's comments, the JVP has
not climbed down a wit from its long-standing anti-peace
process views. It is hard to assess how dangerous the
party is to the peace track. If the JVP does link up
with President Kumaratunga and her party, it may have a
shot at being in the next government, which would be a
serious blow to the peace process. As an independent
force, however, the party is a bit marginal: it can
stir up demonstrations, etc., but otherwise has little
leverage. Some observers say, however, that the party
may be gaining strength in the rural Sinhalese heartland
and be on its way to becoming even more of an electoral
force than it already is. (Note: In the last election
in December 2001, the JVP won almost 10 percent of the
vote, an impressive total for a hard-line left wing
party in Sri Lanka.) END COMMENT.



8. (U) Minimized considered.

ENTWISTLE