Ex-foreign minister warned India may join in imposing embargoes
The then Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera warned President Mahinda Rajapaksa that India may join western powers to bring international strictures and even embargoes on Sri Lanka.
The warning came in a letter Mr. Samaraweera sent on December 13, last year, almost a month before he was sacked. Copies of this letter were released to the media together with a letter he wrote to Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) General Secretary, Maithripala Sirisena, countering charges levelled against him.
Mr. Samaraweera told President Rajapaksa that during his meeting with Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, in December last year, it was becoming clear that Indian policy was more and more dictated by Tamil Nadu forces. “We must be realistic to recognise that the Indian central government will not do anything to upset any of the southern states, especially Tamil Nadu as those are the states that have put India on the world map through their technological and economic development in many fields,” he pointed out.
Even the latest assurance by Congress Party chief Sonia Gandhi to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi about not supplying lethal weapons, Mr. Samaraweera says, is indicative of India's stance. "The only instrument we have to bridge this widening chasm is our clear support for devolution of power and some visible action with regard to human rights and humanitarian problems," he said.
Mr. Samaraweera expressed concern about the manner in which allegations against the Government are handled by the state media. Instead of responding to allegations in a factual and credible manner, he said, the people who make such allegations become victims of vicious personal attacks bordering on criminal defamation. He warned that a strategy of "shooting the messenger" will only alienate the international community further away.
Mr. Samaraweera pointed out that since his state visit to New Delhi, Sri Lanka-India relations were further strengthened even in the area of military procurement. He said, "India provided us with most of our requested requirements including important assets for Naval and Air defence. Subsequent to one such request I conveyed to the Indian Prime Minister and the Defence Minister,
a special team was sent to Colombo within 48 hours to assess our needs. This is one example of the strong understanding we have established with India during your first few months as President."
Mr. Samaraweera quoted former Indian High Commissioner, Nirupama Rao, as saying that India has not provided so much military help to Sri Lanka since IPKF (Indian Peace Keeping Force) days.
Here are some of the other highlights of Mr. Samaraweera's eleven-page letter:
"There have been persistent reports about alleged abductions and extra-judicial killings attributed to government forces as well as the Karuna faction and the LTTE. These alleged abductions and killings have been reported both from cleared areas and uncleared areas. Whether or not these were committed by terrorist groups or Government agencies, it is the responsibility of the Government to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators in keeping with Sri Lanka's treaty commitments. When such prosecutions do not take place, the Government will be blamed for allowing a culture of impunity."
"Despite heavy lobbying by the LTTE and its front organizations, the Government was finally able to convince the EU to impose a ban on the LTTE. The Foreign Ministry, under your Excellency's directives, worked resolutely getting the LTTE proscribed in the EU and Canada. Even Prabhakaran acknowledged this fact in his speech of November 27.
As you would recall, this decision by the EU provided the Government with an opportunity to launch a constitutional reform process. The International community, especially India welcomed this initiative. We must build on this platform and not demolish it."