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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
06COLOMBO1985 2006-11-28 08:37:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Colombo
Cable title:  

SRI LANKA: TIGER LEADER'S HEROES DAY SPEECH JUST

Tags:   PREL PTER PHUM PREF MOPS CE 
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					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 COLOMBO 001985 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR SCA/INS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/28/2016
TAGS: PREL PTER PHUM PREF MOPS CE
SUBJECT: SRI LANKA: TIGER LEADER'S HEROES DAY SPEECH JUST
SHORT OF A DECLARATION OF WAR

Classified By: Ambassador Robert O. Blake, Jr., for reasons 1.4(b,d).



1. (C) SUMMARY: In his annual "Great Heroes' Day" speech,
Tamil Tiger chief Prabhakaran castigated successive Sri
Lankan governments for failing to keep promises to present a
viable plan to settle Sri Lanka's decades-old ethnic
conflict. He declared the 2002 Cease-Fire Agreement
"defunct," but stopped short of making an open declaration of
war -- or even of independence. Still, Prabhakaran made it
clear that that the armed struggle to create Tamil Eelam -- a
homeland for his people -- would have priority over stalled
peace efforts. He closed with an appeal for support from the
international community and from the Tamil diaspora. In
Embassy's view, it is significant that Prabhakaran's Tamil
Tigers did not attempt a major blow against the Sri Lanka
security forces before the speech. Since Prabhakaran did not
announce the Tiger's withdrawal from the CFA, the door for a
negotiated solution remains ajar -- but only by a crack. It
will be critical to press the government to react to the
speech by redoubling efforts to draft a viable settlement
proposal, rather than take Prabhakaran's truculence as a
signal to press again for the military victory over the
Tigers that has eluded them for 23 years. End summary.



2. (SBU) LTTE supreme leader Prabhakaran delivered his
annual "Great Heroes' Day" speech, as in the past two years,
in a video studio and simulcast over the internet, rather
than in public, because of fears of a GSL or "Karuna faction"
assassination attempt. Prabhakaran claimed that after the
LTTE's six-year commitment to the CFA, three administrations
of Sinhalese leadership have failed to address Tamil rights.
Prabhakaran accused the Rajapaksa government of "waging a
propaganda campaign" to put diplomatic pressure on the
European Union and Canada to ban the LTTE as a terrorist
organization despite "the objection of the Sri Lanka
Monitoring Mission." Referring obliquely to the Co-chairs
(and specifically the U.S.), he added, "some countries that
proclaim to be helping the peace efforts have failed to
condemn genocidal attacks on our people" and "are also giving
military and financial aid to the Sinhala regime to support
its war plans," thus "encouraging the Rajapaksa regime to
carry on with its brutal military offensives with impunity."



3. (SBU) Calling the 2001 Ceasefire Agreement "defunct,"
Prabhakaran accused the GSL of waging military and economic
war against the Tamils, and condemned the GSL for the closing
of the Muhamalai checkpoint of the A9 highway linking the
Jaffna peninsula to the rest of the island through the
LTTE-controlled Vanni. He characterized the All-Party
Conference, the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the
ruling Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and main opposition
United Nationl Party (UNP), and the Commission of Inquiry to
investigate human rights abuses, as transparent attempts to
pacify the international community.



4. (SBU) Reiterating the LTTE claim to be the sole
representative of Sri Lanka's Tamils, the LTTE leader
concluded that the "uncompromising stance of Sinhala
chauvinism" has left the Tigers with no choice but to resume
the (assumedly military) struggle for a separate state. He
asked the international community to "recognize our freedom
struggle" and expressed gratitude to the leaders and people
of Tamil Nadu for "voicing their support for our freedom
struggle." He asked the Tamil Diaspora to "maintain their
unwavering participation and support."

COMMENT


--------------------------





5. (C) Many observers had expected the Tigers to strike hard
against the government in the days leading up to the speech
to show they had not been weakened by GSL attacks. Possible

COLOMBO 00001985 002 OF 002


targets included military ones, including bases or military
headquarters in the Colombo area, or "softer" ones such as
VIPs. This did not happen. This might be a sign of
continued Tiger restraint, but more likely of weakness that
they did not want to give the GSL the pretext to launch even
more intensive attacks. In any case, the fact is that the
military balance does not favor the Tigers at the moment,
despite some recent victories, notably, the successful
defense of Tiger positions at the A-9 crossing point at
Muhamalai against a government attack on October 11. The
Tigers are under severe pressure in the East, and are in
danger of losing their last toehold along the coast there.



6. (C): Prabhakaran's speech is probably just as
significant for what it did not say. He did not declare the
LTTE's withdrawal from the CFA, nor did he use the occasion
to declare the independence of Tamil Eelam. Prabhakaran
seemed to be aiming his message at the international
community and the Tamil diaspora, even more than at his
domestic audience. While his assessment of the CFA as
"defunct" appears to put us back in situation before peace
process began in 2000, Prabhakaran's description of the
situation as "not peace, not war" may have left the door to
talks open just a crack. We understand that the Sri Lanka
Monitoring Mission will attempt to clarify this with their
LTTE interlocutors urgently. There is a significant danger,
however, that Sinhalese hardliners like Army Commander
Fonseka will feel emboldened now and pursue, unencumbered by
the CFA, the military victory that has eluded them since LTTE
violence began in 1983. We recommend the Departments of
State and Defense use meetings with Fonseka to reiterate
there can be no military solution and the need for restraint.
Embassy will do the same in Colombo. End comment.
BLAKE