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WikiLeaks: US On LTTE’s Invocation Of The ‘Eritrea’ Mantra


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Source: https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/wikileaks-us-on-lttes-invocation-of-the-eritrea-mantra/#google_vignette

“The popular perception of the Sri Lankan government as anti-Tamil is reinforced by the apparently random manner in which the army lobs artillery shells into Jaffna. The Reuters correspondent recounted two such incidents which occurred during the week he has in Jaffna. In one case a shell landed in a crowded fish market, killing two civilians and wounded seventeen. Two days before, a woman and her two children were injured when a round fell on their house while they were sleeping. ‘I can’t understand why they do this,’ the Reuters man said, ‘because the LTTE doesn’t even have camps in the areas being shelled.’” the US Embassy Colombo informed Washington.

 

A Leaked US diplomatic cable, dated June 17, 1994, updated the Secretary of State regarding the LTTE’s civil administration structure. The Colombo Telegraph found the related leaked cable from the WikiLeaks database. The cable subject was “Life Under The LTTE”.

The Embassy wrote; “LTTE Spokesman Anton Balasingham told the visiting journalists that the Tigers’ see newly-independent Eritrea as the model for their own independence struggle. By setting up civil administration in areas under their control and working towards economic self-sufficiency, the Tigers hope to achieve de facto sovereignty. When the Reuters correspondent pointed out to him that the central government was still running schools, staffing hospitals and distributing food in the north, Balasingham reportedly said shrugged and said ‘We can’t do that, so we let the government to do it.’”

Placing a comment the US embassy wrote; “The LTTE frequent invocation of the ‘Eritrea’ mantra conveniently leaves out the fact that Eritrea achieved its independence because the central government in Addis Ababa collapsed; the Sri Lankan government is unlikely to follow suit. Nonetheless, the burgeoning Tiger civil administration indicates that the LTTE is steadily working to make ‘Tamil Eelam’ is a fact.”

Read the cable below for further details;

R 171229Z JUN 94
FM AMEMBASSY COLOMBO
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 0056
INFO AMCONSUL MADRAS
AMEMBASSY PARIS
AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI
AMEMBASSY LONDON
AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU
AMEMBASSY DHAKA
AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD
AMCONSUL KARACHI
USCINCPAC HONOLULU HI
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 COLOMBO 003119 

LIMITED OFFICIAL USE 

CINCPAC FOR FPA / LONDON FOR N. JOHNSON
KARACHI FOR LAWTON / PARIS FOR ALLEGRONE 

E.O. 12356:N/A
TAGS: PINS PHUM PTER KPRP CE
SUBJECT:  LIFE UNDER THE LTTE 

1.  SUMMARY.  RECENT TRAVELERS TO JAFFNA REPORT THAT
THE LIBERATION TIGERS OF TAMIL EELAM (LTTE) CONTINUE
TO SET UP CIVIL ADMINISTRATION IN AREAS UNDER THEIR
CONTROL.  A TIGER POLICE FORCE HAS REPLACED THE
REGULAR LTTE CADRES ON THE STREETS OF JAFFNA, TIGER
COURTS ARE DISPENSING JUSTICE THROUGHOUT THE
PENINSULA, AND A "BANK OF TAMIL EELAM" HAS BEGUN
FUNCTIONING UNDER THE MANAGEMENT OF A FORMER STATE
BANK OFFICIAL.  THE TIGERS ARE ALSO EMPHASIZING
ECONOMIC SELF-SUFFICIENCY BY ATTEMPTING TO PRODUCE
SUBSTITUTES FOR ITEMS ON THE GOVERNMENT'S "BANNED"
LIST.  ON THE MILITARY FRONT, THE LTTE IS PREPARING
FOR A POSSIBLE ARMY ASSAULT ON JAFFNA AND HAS
THREATENED TO DISRUPT THE UPCOMING PRESIDENTIAL AND
PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS IN THE EASTERN PROVINCE.
END SUMMARY. 

2.  THE FOLLOWING REPORT IS BASED ON CONVERSATIONS
WITH RECENT TRAVELLERS TO THE LTTE-CONTROLLED JAFFNA
PENINSULA, INCLUDING THE COLOMBO-BASED BBC AND
REUTERS CORRESPONDENTS AND THE JAFFNA-BASED BISHOP
OF THE CHURCH OF SOUTH INDIA. 

3.  RECENT TRAVELLERS TO JAFFNA WERE STRUCK BY THE
DEGREE TO WHICH THE LTTE HAS SET UP ITS OWN CIVIL
ADMINISTRATION IN NORTHERN SRI LANKA.  GONE ARE THE
TRUCKLOADS OF HEAVILY-ARMED TIGERS WHO PATROLLED THE
STREETS OF JAFFNA AS RECENTLY AS 1992.  THE
GUERRILLA FIGHTERS HAVE NOW BEEN REPLACED BY
BLUE-UNIFORMED "TAMIL EELAM POLICE."  THE
LIGHTLY-ARMED POLICE DIRECT TRAFFIC (MOSTLY
BICYCLES), RECORD STATEMENTS FROM THE PUBLIC AND
INVESTIGATE CRIMES "JUST LIKE IN COLOMBO," ACCORDING
TO THE REUTERS CORRESPONDENT.  THE INSPECTOR GENERAL
WHO HEADS THE FORCE IS A FORMER CONSTABLE IN THE SRI
LANKAN POLICE. 

4.  THE POLICE ARE BACKSTOPPED BY THE LTTE "JUSTICE
DIVISION," WHICH RUNS FOUR DISTRICT COURTS AND ONE
APPELLATE COURT.  LTTE "JUDGES"--ALL FORMER
GUERRILLAS--HEAR CASES AND HAND DOWN JUDGMENTS FROM
THE BENCH.  ACCORDING TO THE BBC CORRESPONDENT,
THESE JUDGES RECEIVE SIX MONTHS OF LEGAL TRAINING IN
AN LTTE "LAW COLLEGE" BEFORE TAKING OVER THEIR
DUTIES.  EACH JUDGE ALSO HAS A "LEGAL ADVISOR,"
GENERALLY A RETIRED GOVERNMENT ATTORNEY.  THE JUDGES
THEMSELVES TEND TO BE YOUNG, IN THEIR LATE 20'S OR
EARLY 30'S.  THE ONE APPEALS COURT JUDGE IS A
WOMAN.  THE BBC AND THE REUTERS CORRESPONDENTS
AGREED THAT THE COURTS SEEMED TO BE HANDLING BOTH
CIVIL AND CRIMINAL CASES IN A STRAIGHTFORWARD LEGAL
MANNER. 

5.  ON THEIR ARRIVAL IN JAFFNA, THE JOURNALISTS'
BAGS WERE CHECKED BY LTTE CUSTOMS OFFICERS AND THEIR
PAPERS WERE EXAMINED BY LTTE IMMIGRATION OFFICIALS.
CHECKING WAS THOROUGH; IT TOOK THE OFFICIALS THREE
HOURS TO CLEAR THE 150 PEOPLE WHO ARRIVED ON AN ICRC
BOAT FROM TRINCOMALEE.  NO PASSENGERS WERE ALLOWED
OUT OF THE CUSTOMS AND IMMIGRATION HALL UNTIL THEIR
BONA FIDES WERE ESTABLISHED AND THEY HAD PAID ALL
APPLICABLE DUTIES ON THE GOODS THEY BROUGHT FROM THE
SOUTH. 

6.  THE LTTE HAS RECENTLY OPENED BANKS IN JAFFNA AND
OTHER NORTHERN TOWNS.  UNLIKE THE BRANCH OFFICES OF
COLOMBO BANKS, WHICH ONLY TAKE DEPOSITS, THE "BANK
OF TAMIL EELAM" ALSO PROVIDES LOANS TO FARMERS AND
SMALL BUSINESSMEN.  THE TIGERS HAVE MOUNTED A MAJOR
PUBLICITY CAMPAIGN TO ENCOURAGE PEOPLE TO PUT THEIR
MONEY IN THE LTTE BANKS.  THE MAIN SELLING POINT IS
THAT THE NEW BANKS WILL RECYCLE MONEY INTO THE
COMMUNITY RATHER THAN (AS IS NOW THE CASE) TAKING IT
OUT OF THE PENINSULA.  THE MANAGER OF THE BANK OF
TAMIL EELAM IS A RETIRED BANK OF CEYLON OFFICIAL. 

7.  THE EXISTENCE OF THE LTTE-RUN "TAMIL EELAM
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT ORGANIZATION" (TEEDO) IS
ANOTHER SIGN THAT THE TIGERS ARE STRIVING FOR
SELF-SUFFICIENCY.  TEEDO IS CHARGED WITH FINDING
ALTERNATIVE LOCAL SOURCES OF SUPPLY FOR "BANNED"
ITEMS EMBARGOED BY THE SRI LANKAN GOVERNMENT.  IT
HAS REPORTEDLY HELPED SET UP SMALL-SCALE
MANUFACTURING ENTERPRISES TO PRODUCE AGRICULTURAL
IMPLEMENTS, BOTTLED SOFT DRINKS AND OTHER
HARD-TO-FIND ITEMS.  TEEDO ALSO OFFERS CASH
INCENTIVES TO PEOPLE WHO COME UP WITH INNOVATIVE
SOLUTIONS TO PROBLEMS ARISING FROM THE EMBARGO.  ONE
SUCH AWARD RECENTLY WENT TO A MAN WHO PERFECTED A
WAY OF USING "BIO GAS" TO RUN HIS TRACTOR. 

8.  ACCORDING TO THE TWO JOURNALISTS AS WELL AS THE
BISHOP, ALL ITEMS ON THE GOVERNMENT'S "BANNED LIST"
ARE FREELY AVAILABLE IN JAFFNA, THOUGH OFTEN AT
PRICES SEVERAL TIMES THOSE IN THE REST OF THE
COUNTRY.  "PENLIGHT BATTERIES, CHOCOLATES, ANYTHING
YOU CAN FIND IN COLOMBO YOU CAN FIND IN JAFFNA,"
SAID THE REUTERS CORRESPONDENT.  RETAILERS SIMPLY
PASS THE EXTRA COST OF SMUGGLED ITEMS ON TO THE
CONSUMER, WHILE THE LTTE ALSO EXACTS ITS CUT.  WITH
THE EXCEPTION OF GOLD MERCHANTS, ALL SHOPS AND
BUSINESSES PAY THE TIGERS A TWO PERCENT TAX ON GROSS
SALES.  GOLD MERCHANTS PAY 4 PERCENT. 

9.  ELECTRICITY, SHUT OFF BY THE CENTRAL GOVERNMENT
IN 1990, IS NOW SUPPLIED BY LTTE GENERATORS TO SOME
15,000 COMMERCIAL SUBSCRIBERS.  RATES ARE SAID TO BE
TWENTY TIMES THOSE IN COLOMBO:  100 RUPEES (USD
2.00) A UNIT VERSUS 5 RUPEES A UNIT.  SOME SHOPS,
HOTELS AND NEWSPAPERS HAVE THEIR OWN GENERATORS
WHICH RUN ON A MIXTURE OF KEROSENE AND VEGETABLE
OIL.  THE LTTE ALSO HAS ITS OWN 200-LINE FIELD
TELEPHONE SYSTEM, ACCESS TO WHICH IS SO FAR LIMITED
TO LTTE OFFICES AND OTHER KEY INSTALLATIONS. 

10.  LTTE SPOKESMAN ANTON BALASINGHAM TOLD THE
VISITING JOURNALISTS THAT THE TIGERS' SEE
NEWLY-INDEPENDENT ERITREA AS THE MODEL FOR THEIR OWN
INDEPENDENCE STRUGGLE.  BY SETTING UP CIVIL
ADMINISTRATION IN AREAS UNDER THEIR CONTROL AND
WORKING TOWARD ECONOMIC SELF-SUFFICIENCY, THE TIGERS
HOPE TO ACHIEVE DE FACTO SOVEREIGNTY.  WHEN THE
REUTERS CORRESPONDENT POINTED OUT TO HIM THAT THE
CENTRAL GOVERNMENT WAS STILL RUNNING SCHOOLS,
STAFFING HOSPITALS AND DISTRIBUTING FOOD IN THE
NORTH, BALASINGHAM REPORTEDLY SHRUGGED AND SAID "WE
CAN'T DO THAT, SO WE LET THE GOVERNMENT DO IT." 

11.  ON THE MILITARY FRONT, THE TIGERS ARE PREPARING
FOR A MAJOR ARMY ASSAULT ON JAFFNA.  TRAVELERS
REPORT THAT THE LTTE IS DIGGING TRENCHES AND
PREPARING DEFENSES THROUGHOUT THE PENINSULA.  THE
LTTE ALSO REPORTEDLY REQUIRES EVERY FAMILY IN JAFFNA
TO PROVIDE A NUMBER OF HOURS OF FREE LABOR EVERY
MONTH.  EACH FAMILY HAS BEEN ISSUED A "LABOR CARD"
TO BE STAMPED BY THE TIGERS UPON COMPLETION OF THE
FAMILY'S REQUIRED CONTRIBUTION.  WHEN ASKED ABOUT
THE LULL IN FIGHTING SINCE LAST YEAR'S BATTLE AT
POONERYN, BALASINGHAM EXPLAINED THAT "BOTH SIDES"
HAD SUFFERED HEAVY LOSSES AND WERE IN THE PROCESS OF
RECRUITING AND TRAINING NEW FIGHTERS.  WHEN THE
BISHOP QUERIED BALASINGHAM ABOUT THE LTTE'S ABILITY
TO WITHSTAND A FULL-SCALE ARMY ASSAULT ON JAFFNA,
BALASINGHAM TOLD THE BISHOP NOT TO FORGET THAT "WE
STILL HAVE THE CAPABILITY TO STRIKE COLOMBO.  OUR
BOYS ARE THERE." 

12.  BALASINGHAM SAID THAT THE LTTE DID NOT ATTEMPT
TO DISRUPT THE LOCAL ELECTIONS IN THE EASTERN
PROVINCE BECAUSE THE POLLS WERE "NOT IMPORTANT" AND
THE COST OF DISRUPTING THEM WOULD HAVE BEEN HIGH,
BOTH IN TERMS OF CIVILIAN CASUALTIES AND LTTE
RESOURCES.  HE WENT ON TO TELL THE REUTERS
CORRESPONDENT THAT THE TIGERS WOULD NOT VIEW THE
UPCOMING PRESIDENTIAL AND GENERAL ELECTIONS WITH
SUCH EQUANIMITY.  "OUR OFFICIAL POSITION," SAID
BALASINGHAM, "IS THAT WE ARE OPPOSED TO THE HOLDING
OF ANY ELECTION IN THE NORTH AND EAST UNLESS AND
UNTIL A POLITICAL SOLUTION IS WORKED OUT TO THE
SATISFACTION OF OUR PEOPLE."  THE REUTERS
CORRESPONDENT TOLD POLOFF THAT BALASINGHAM SAID OFF
THE RECORD THAT THE TIGERS WOULD WITHOUT QUESTION
DISRUPT THE POLLS IN THE EAST. 

13.  ACCORDING TO THE JOURNALISTS' ADMITTEDLY
UNSCIENTIFIC SURVEY OF THE JAFFNA CITIZENRY, SUPPORT
FOR THE LTTE REMAINS FAIRLY STRONG.  THE REUTERS
CORRESPONDENT ATTRIBUTED SOME OF THIS SUPPORT TO THE
MILITANTS' LOW PUBLIC PROFILE AND THE GENERALLY
FAVORABLE ATTITUDES TOWARD THE NEW CIVIL
ADMINISTRATION. "PEOPLE ADMIRE THE DISCIPLINE OF
THE LTTE ADMINITRATIVE SERVICE AND APPRECIATE THE
FACT THAT THE ARE NOT HARASSED," HE SAID.  THE BBC
CORRESPONDENT SAID THAT THE GENERAL LEVEL OF SUPPORT
FOR THE LTTE HAS "MORE THAN I EXPECTED."  BOTH
CORRESPONDENTS AGREED WITH THE BISHOP'S STATEMENT
THAT GIVEN A CHOICE BETWEEN THE ARMY AND THE LTTE,
THE MAJORITY OF JAFFNA RESIDENTS WOULD CHOOSE THE
LATTER. 

14.  THE POPULAR PERCEPTION OF THE SRI LANKAN
GOVERNMENT AS ANTI-TAMIL IS REINFORCED BY THE
APPARENTLY RANDOM MANNER IN WHICH THE ARMY LOBS
ARTILLERY SHELLS INTO JAFFNA.  THE REUTERS
CORRESPONDENT RECOUNTED TWO SUCH INCIDENTS WHICH
OCCURRED DURING THE WEEK HE HAS IN JAFFNA.  IN ONE
CASE A SHELL LANDED IN A CROWDED FISH MARKET,
KILLING TWO CIVILIANS AND WOUNDING SEVENTEEN.  TWO
DAYS BEFORE, A WOMAN AND HER TWO CHILDREN WERE
INJURED WHEN A ROUND FELL ON THEIR HOUSE WHILE THEY
WERE SLEEPING.  "I CAN'T UNDERSTAND WHY THEY DO
THIS," THE REUTERS MAN SAID, "BECAUSE THE LTTE
DOESN'T EVEN HAVE CAMPS IN THE AREAS BEING
SHELLED." 

15.  COMMENT.  THE LTTE'S FREQUENT INVOCATION OF THE
"ERITREA" MANTRA CONVENIENTLY LEAVES OUT THE FACT
THAT ERITREA ACHIEVED ITS INDEPENDENCE BECAUSE THE
CENTRAL GOVERNMENT IN ADDIS ABABA COLLAPSED; THE SRI
LANKAN GOVERNMENT IS UNLIKELY TO FOLLOW SUIT.
NONETHELESS, THE BURGEONING TIGER CIVIL
ADMINISTRATION INDICATES THAT THE LTTE IS STEADILY
WORKING TO MAKE "TAMIL EELAM" A FACT.  END COMMENT. 

MANN
Edited by நன்னிச் சோழன்
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