‘WikiLeaks’ revelations on Lanka under scrutiny

By Leon Berenger

The authorities were yesterday closely studying the material put into public domain by the whistle blowing website ‘Wikileaks’ which alleged that Patricia Butenis, US Ambassador in Colombo had filed messages to Washington that put the country’s current administration in poor light.

External Affairs Ministry Secretary Romesh Jayasinghe told the Sunday Times that the alleged cables sent by the US Ambassador will be thoroughly investigated for their authenticity before follow up action is taken in a meeting with the US Ambassador.

“We have been informed that there is a volume of material relating to Sri Lanka. Therefore we have to study all this before moving on further into this matter,” Mr. Jayasinghe said.

Government spokesman and Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella said that the leaks which are now public information is ‘damning’ but added that it was up to the External Affairs Ministry (EAM) to take the matter up through the necessary diplomatic channels.

“I will also take up the matter with President Mahinda Rajapaksa when I meet him in the next few days. In my opinion, the EAM should have a meeting with the US ambassador regarding this issue,” he said.
In the alleged statements put out by Ambassador Butenis to the Pentagon she had stated that President Mahinda Rajapaksa, as well as his brothers and former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka were collectively responsible for human rights violations during the last stages of the conflict between the security forces and the LTTE in May last year.

In a cable sent on January 15 this year Ms. Butenis is further alleged to have stated that one of the reasons there was such little progress towards a genuine Sri Lankan inquiry into the killings was that the President and the former Army Commander were largely responsible. “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.

“Not only was the Colombo Government not interested in investigating itself, but Tamil leaders - unlike those abroad - were also nervous about the issue as it might make them targets for reprisals. “Accountability is clearly an issue of importance for the ultimate political and moral health of Sri Lanka”, the Ambassador concluded, but she did not think it would happen any time soon.

The US Embassy in Colombo has not denied or confirmed the material but strongly condemned the illegal disclosure of classified information.

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