WikiLeaks: Sri Lanka imported radio equipment for LTTE

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Colombo, Jan 8, The Sri Lankan government had imported radio equipment for the Tamil Tiger rebels in 2002 as it tried to work out a peace deal in collaboration with the Norwegian facilitators, according to a cable sent by the US mission in Colombo revealed by WikiLeaks.

The move “left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth” stirring controversy that the government and the Norwegian facilitators have gone too far to please the Tigers, the US cable dated Dec 20, 2002, said.

The ruling United National Party (UNP) in 2002, with the assistance of Norwegian Embassy in Sri Lanka, ordered the radio equipment for the LTTE radio station “Voice of the Tigers”, which was legalized by the government as a private entity and given permission to broadcast, the reported Saturday.

According to the cable released recently by the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten, the duty free shipment was received by the Norwegian Embassy and was handed over to the Peace Secretariat from where it was transferred to the LTTE with the help of the defence ministry.

After the shipment, both the Sri Lankan and Norwegian governments came under severe criticism from various political parties, particularly from the Marxist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna party, the cable noted.

The Sri Lankan government responding to the flak, said that the import of the equipment was allowed because the LTTE had agreed to accede to government’s broadcasting regulations.

The Norwegians have told the US that they were only working to further the peace process at the Sri Lankan government’s request.

The US in the leaked cable says that while the incident did not cause much damage to the peace process, but its handling provided the skeptics of the peace process some ammunition.

The current Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa abrogated the failed ceasefire agreement in January 2008 and launched a massive military offensive against the militants that ended the country’s decades-long insurgency of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in May 2009.

Filed under: Terrorism
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