Washington: Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse and his former Army chief Sarath Fonseka were responsible for alleged war crimes and killing of Tamil civilians during the last phase of the 30-year-old civil war, according to a secret US cable made public by WikiLeaks.
Seven months after the LTTE rebels were decimated, US Ambassador to Sri Lanka Patricia A Butenis, in a secret communication to the US Government, said that the responsibility for the killing of innocent civilians rests with Rajapakse, his brothers and Fonseka.
The secret cable, written by Butenis on January 15, 2010, was released yesterday by the WikiLeaks, a whistle blower website.
The US, which has called the release of all such cable as illegal and an act of crime, has neither confirmed nor denied the authenticity of these cables, which number more than 250,000.
"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 Rajapakse and his brothers and opposition candidate General Fonseka," the cable says.
The cable was written 11 days before the Presidential Elections in Sri Lanka in which Rajapakse was challenged by his former Army chief Gen Sarath Fonseka.
Rajapakse, his brothers, two of whom are part of the Government, and Fonseka are alleged to have committed war crimes during the last phase of the 30-year-old civil war. Many Human Rights organisations have demanded action against them.
The cable says President Rajapakse named a committee to make recommendations to him on the 'US incidents report' by April 2010 and candidate Fonseka has discussed privately the formation of some form of "truth and reconciliation" commission.
"Otherwise, accountability has not been a high-profile issue -- including for Tamils in Sri Lanka," it said.
While Tamils have told the US that they would like to see some form of accountability, they have been pragmatic in what they can expect and have focused instead on securing greater rights and freedoms, resolving the IDP question, and improving economic prospects in the war-ravaged and former LTTE-occupied areas, the cable said.
The cable said: "Indeed, while they wanted to keep the issue alive for possible future action, Tamil politicians with whom we spoke in Colombo, Jaffna, and elsewhere said now was not time and that pushing hard on the issue would make them vulnerable."
The cable notes that "one prominent Tamil" who has spoken publicly on the issue is Tamil National Alliance (TNA) MP, self-proclaimed presidential candidate and slain LTTE chief Velupillai Prabhakaran's relative MK Sivajilingam.
"Breaking from both the TNA mainstream and the pro-government Tamil groups, he launched his campaign because he believed neither the government nor the opposition was adequately addressing Tamil issues," the cable said.
"Sivajilingam has focused on creating a de-centralised federal structure in Sri Lanka with separate prime ministers for the Sinhalese and Tamils, but he also has spoken about accountability, demanding an international inquiry to get justice for the deaths and suffering of the Tamil people," the cable said.
First Published: Thursday, December 02, 2010, 15:47