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2003-11-27 23:24:00
Embassy Colombo
Cable title:  

In annual address, LTTE leader supports peace

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This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 COLOMBO 002045 



E.O. 12958: DECL: 11-28-13
SUBJECT: In annual address, LTTE leader supports peace
process, but criticizes political situation in south

Refs: (A) Colombo-SA/INS 11/28/03 class e-mail

- (B) FBIS Reston Va DTG 272324Z Nov 03
- (C) Colombo 2010, and previous

(U) Classified by Ambassador Jeffrey J. Lunstead.
Reasons 1.5 (b, d).




E.O. 12958: DECL: 11-28-13
SUBJECT: In annual address, LTTE leader supports peace
process, but criticizes political situation in south

Refs: (A) Colombo-SA/INS 11/28/03 class e-mail

- (B) FBIS Reston Va DTG 272324Z Nov 03
- (C) Colombo 2010, and previous

(U) Classified by Ambassador Jeffrey J. Lunstead.
Reasons 1.5 (b, d).

1. (C) SUMMARY: Tamil Tiger leader V. Prabhakaran's
annual "heroes' day" address on November 27 stressed his
group's ongoing support for the peace process. The LTTE
leader, however, lashed out at the confused political
situation in the south, asserting that it was holding up
the process. He warned that the Tigers would seek a
separate state if the situation was not cleared up.
Contacts reacted to the speech in a mostly positive
manner. In a related development, Prabhakaran
reiterated Tiger support for the peace process in his
November 26 meeting with EU External Relations Chief
Chris Patten. Prabhakaran's speech was strident and
combative, but was constructive to the extent that he
made clear that the LTTE remains committed to the peace

Prabhakaran' Annual Address

2. (U) On November 27, Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam
(LTTE) leader V. Prabhakaran delivered his annual
"heroes' day" address. The speech, which has been
delivered every year since 1989 (see Ref C), was
broadcast live over the LTTE's "Voice of the Tigers"
radio station. A videotape was also made and circulated
to the media. In the videotape, Prabhakaran is clad in
a camouflage uniform complete with pillbox hat with a
cyanide capsule tucked into his breast pocket. He
delivered the short speech in Tamil standing at a
lectern in front of a map of the sections of Sri Lanka
that the Tigers want to control in the north and east.

3. (U) In the speech (text sent to SA/INS in Ref A),
Prabhakaran emphasized the LTTE's ongoing support for
the peace process. He also used the occasion to lash
out at the confused political situation in the south,
asserting that the process was being delayed by
disagreements between President Kumaratunga and Prime
Minister Wickremesinghe. In a somewhat ominous note,
Prabhakaran commented that there would be no alternative
other than for the LTTE to form an independent state if
the current situation in the south did not clear up.
Highlights of the speech follow:

-- On the LTTE's support for the peace process: "Our
organization, as well as our people do not want war. We
want peace and we want to resolve our problems through
peaceful means. We are deeply committed to the peace
process. It is because of our sincere commitment to
peace that we are firmly and rigidly observing the
ceasefire. It is our organization that took the
initiative of declaring the cessation of hostilities
unilaterally and observing peace for the last two years,
tolerating the provocative actions of the state's armed

-- On accusations that the Tigers are preparing for war:
"There is absolutely no truth in President Kumaratunga's
accusation that we are preparing for war by procuring
weapons, recruiting on a large scale and strengthening
our military machine. We are engaged in the task of
maintaining peace but certainly not preparing for war.
It is true that we have been recruiting on a small scale
since we needed manpower for our administrative
structures. The President has distorted and exaggerated
this matter and is trying to create fear among the
Sinhala people that we are preparing for war."

-- On the confusing political situation in the south:
"There is no coherent structure in the form of a
government in the Sinhala nation. The power of the
state is torn between the heads of the two most powerful
Sinhala political parties. The Presidency and the
Parliament are in conflict with each other. Ranil
Wickremesinghe's administration is severely weakened and
paralyzed following the President's take-over of the
ministries of defense, interior and media. The power
struggle between the two leaders has resulted in the de-
stabilization of the state and the peace process has
come to a standstill."

-- On the LTTE's proposals for an interim administration
in the north/east: "The allegations leveled against our
draft proposals that they aim to create an independent
Tamil state or that they contain stepping stones for
separation are not true. Our proposals do not
constitute a framework for a permanent, final solution.
Our draft proposals deal with an interim arrangement.
...Some countries welcomed our attempt, for the first
time, to put forward our ideas in writing in a clear and
comprehensive form. Ranil's administration did not
reject our proposals, but rather agreed to resume talks
on that basis. But at the same time, the Sinhala racist
forces are vehemently opposed to our draft proposals."

-- On the international community's involvement in the
peace process: "The government has also been engaged in
a plan to set up an international safety net with the
assistance of certain countries...Some countries have
even stipulated parameters within which the Tamil
national question has to be resolved. It is because of
these international interventions that the peace
negotiations became more complex. It was during these
circumstances that a crucial meeting of donor countries
took place in Washington in April this year
marginalizing our organization. As the main party in
conflict enjoying equal status in the peace process, we
were disappointed and saddened by such humiliation. It
is because of these factors that we decided to suspend
our participation in the talks and to review the
multiple dimensions of the entire peace process."

-- On possible "secession": "We cannot allow the life
and potential of our people to be systematically
destroyed in the spider web of Sinhala chauvinism...if
the Sinhala chauvinistic ruling elites continue to deny
the rights of our people we have no alternative other
than to secede and form an independent state invoking
the right to self-determination of our people."

Mostly a Positive Reaction to Speech

4. (C) Contacts have reacted in a mostly positive
manner to the speech. Kethesh Loganathan, an analyst at
the Center for Policy Alternatives, a local think-tank,
told us that he thought the speech was basically
constructive. Loganathan noted that the speech "was
strident, but the main point was that it supported the
peace process and gave no indication that the Tigers
were planning a return to war." Joseph Pararajasingham,
a pro-LTTE MP for the Tamil National Alliance,
acknowledged to polchief that the speech had a very hard
edge to it. He thought, however, that the major message
the international community should take from the speech
was that "the Tigers support peace." Pararajasingham
remarked that he thought that in continuing to support
the peace process "Prabhakaran was showing real
patience" given the infighting between President
Kumaratunga and Prime Minister Wickremesinghe. (Note:
The speech was made late November 27 and there has not
been much editorial or op-ed commentary on its substance
as of yet in local newspapers.)

EU's Patten meets LTTE Leader

5. (C) In a related development, Chris Patten, the
European Union External Relations Commissioner, met with
Prabhakaran in the LTTE-controlled town of Kilinochchi
on November 26. In a meeting later that day with EU
countries plus the four co-chairs of the Tokyo process
(Ambassador Lunstead, and the local envoys of Norway,
Japan and the EU), Patten discussed his meeting with
Prabhakaran, who he described as "uncharismatic."
Patten commented that he was struck by the poverty and
war damage in the LTTE-held Wanni region located in
north-central Sri Lanka. He added that despite the
criticism by Sinhalese extremists to his meeting with
the LTTE leader, there were no efforts on the part of
the Tigers to embarrass him via presentations of "Tamil
Eelam" (separatist) flags, maps or other symbols.
(Note: Patten did a good job of defusing some of the
tension regarding his meeting with Prabhakaran, stating
to the press that he was grateful that a large effigy of
him that was burned by Sinhalese extremists made him
look "young and slim.") Regarding the substance of his
meeting, Patten said he bluntly laid out the EU's
position on Sri Lankan issues in four major points to
Prabhakaran, who was joined by political leader S.P.
Thamilchelvam and development expert J. Maheswaran:

-- The international community looked to the Tigers to
turn their backs fully on violence and make a permanent
commitment to peace.

-- The continued reports of LTTE child recruitment,
assassinations, extortion and the import of weapons
called into question the group's good faith.

-- The Tiger's counterproposals regarding the formation
of an interim administration in the north/east stretched
the limits of federalism as agreed to in the GSL's
meeting with the LTTE in Oslo in late 2002. The LTTE's
counterproposals, as they now stood, in effect called
into question Sri Lanka's sovereignty and territorial

-- It was important for the Tigers to involve Muslims
and the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) in the peace

6. (C) In his response to Patten's points, Prabhakaran
reiterated his commitment to peace "six times."
Prabhakaran went on to assert that the LTTE would return
to war only if it was forced upon them, that the Tigers
were abiding by the ceasefire, and they were working
with UNICEF to address the problem of child soldiers.
Prabhakaran called into question, however, actions by
the GSL including its military training with the U.S.
and defense discussions with India. He stated that the
peace dividend had not yet come to the north, as Jaffna
streets were not free like those in Colombo. Regarding
the LTTE's counterproposals and the need to "sell" any
deal to the south, Patten said Prabhakaran cited the
difficulty of "racist" attitudes in the south, but
seemed out of his depth when discussing devolution
ideas. Patten also said he told Prabhakaran that there
comes a point when the leader of an armed struggle must
become a peacemaker, and while that is often difficult,
success in Sri Lanka's peace negotiations is the trigger
for the flow of international funds to rehabilitate the

7. (C) During his November 24-26 visit, Patten also
held discussions with President Kumaratunga, Prime
Minister Wickremesinghe, other key government ministers,
and members of the SLMC. Patten received a briefing
from Norwegian Ambassador Hans Brattskar regarding
Norway's facilitation efforts, as well as from
representatives of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission
(SLMM) on ceasefire compliance. He also gave a speech
on EU experiences with conflict resolution at the Sri
Lanka Institute of International Relations.


8. (C) The tone of Prabhakaran's speech was definitely
strident and combative. While unwelcome, that is not
surprising. His annual speech is usually crafted for a
Tamil audience and Prabhakaran always casts the speech
in ways meant to rally the faithful to the Tiger cause.
In fact, his mention of possible secession -- while
extreme, and a setback for the view that the Tigers are
becoming more moderate and politically responsible -- is
almost routine in that it has been made in most "heroes'
day" addresses. Overall, despite its excesses, the
speech was constructive to the extent that Prabhakaran
made clear that the Tigers want to remain on the peace
track despite the confusing political situation in the
south. This is positive news, and coupled with his
reiteration of support for the peace process in his
meeting with Patten, lends hope that the process can get
back on track once things settle down in the south. END

9. (U) Minimize considered.