Lanka wants blackout on Black July

Foreign Ministry tells all diplomatic missions abroad to act effectively
By Our Diplomatic Editor

Sri Lanka’s diplomatic missions abroad have been directed to urge their host governments not to allow “front groups” of Tiger guerrillas to hold “Black July” commemoration events in their respective countries this year.

July 23 marks the 25th anniversary of anti-Tamil riots. It was sparked by a 1983 Jaffna land mine attack where 13 soldiers were killed.

“If the authorities do not accede to this request,” a Foreign Ministry note classified as ‘CONFIDENTIAL – MOST URGENT” says “missions should lodge strong official protests with the respective Foreign Ministries or relevant authorities.”

This is particularly if it is known that such gatherings would be “used to glorify LTTE terrorism in Sri Lanka and/or to raise funds directly or covertly for the LTTE, to finance terrorism.” The missions have also been instructed to “mobilize and facilitate the anti-LTTE Sri Lankan diaspora and encourage/request them to hold counter-demonstrations and public gatherings denouncing the LTTE and its terrorism in Sri Lanka.”

The nine-page note to Sri Lanka diplomatic missions overseas came as defence and security authorities in Colombo are chalking out an elaborate security plan for enforcement in the coming weeks in the City of Colombo and immediate suburbs. The event this year comes just a week before the beginning of the summit of the leaders of the South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation (SAARC). The Ministerial level meet is to begin on July 27 and the summit thereafter. The event will end on August 3.

The note has taken to task Sri Lanka missions that have not kept the Foreign Ministry briefed on last month’s “Pongu Thamil” commemoration events in ten countries – New Zealand, Norway, Denmark, Italy, Finland, France, South Africa, The Netherlands, Belgium and Germany. Pointing out that “the Government at the highest levels” finds this “unsatisfactory,” the note says the relevant missions should “take immediate action to lodge strong protests with the respective Foreign Ministries and/or relevant authorities against the granting of permission to hold the “Pongu Thamil” event.”

Listing out a number of reasons that should be included in a demarche by the Sri Lankan missions to their host governments, the note warns that “the Ministry is of the view that “Pongu Thamil” could be a dry run by the LTTE and/or its front entities to test the water in the countries concerned of the attitude of the authorities to mobilze the Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora to hold mass gatherings, public demonstrations and other events to commemorate the 25th anniversary of “Black July.”

A demarche is a formal diplomatic representation of one government’s official position, views or wishes on a given subject to an appropriate official in another government or international organization. The Foreign Ministry note has asked missions that failed to keep them informed of the “Pongu Thamil” events should “immediately furnish” reports on the reasons for their failure.

If action has been taken, the Ministry has sought details including copies of Third Person Notes (TPN) or other communication between them and the Foreign Ministry of the host country.

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