ERASING THE EELAM VICTORY Part 17 B
Posted on July 15th, 2020

KAMALIKA PIERIS

REVISED 16.7.20

The first US intervention in the 1970s, though not recognized as such, was the JVP insurgency of 1971. This was USA’s first attempt at destabilizing the state. It was premature and it failed.  It had jumped the gun .N.M.Perera straightaway said this was a CIA activity. Apart from this, US found it difficult to get a foothold in Sri Lanka while Sirimavo Bandaranaike was in power. But things changed when JR Jayawardene became Prime Minister in 1977. 

JR Jayewardene, abandoned the earlier Non-Aligned policy, and attached himself like a limpet to the west, particularly USA. He gave the US extended facility for its Voice of America transmission station in Sri Lanka and offered the Trincomalee Oil tank farm to the US Coastal Corporation.

A very significant event during the time of JR Jayawardene was the signing of the India-Sri Lanka accord in 1987. India’s role in this was very puzzling. This Accord brought no benefit to India. India was much better off with a united Sri Lanka.  It now appears that India was only a front.  USA has been instrumental, behind the scenes. That makes sense. This Accord contained what USA wanted. It was intended to weaken the central government and remove the coastal areas from central control, through the device of Provincial Councils.

Upali Wijewardana   was killed in 1983 when his private jet plunged into the sea when he was returning from Malaysia. This removed from the scene, a promising political leader with a fresh approach. He would have been a firm leader and the US would not have been able to push him around. This was probably an assassination. 

During his time in power, JR Jayewardene brought Ranil Wickremesinghe into politics. Ranil rose rapidly up the political ladder. Starting as MP for Biyagama in 1977, he was appointed Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs by JR and then Minister of Youth Affairs and Employment, making him the youngest cabinet minister of Sri Lanka.

As Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe was very pro-west and pro US. He met the US President, George W Bush in 2003. It was the first time after 18 years a Sri Lankan leader met the US leader in the White House. This visit was primarily focused on building new relationships between United States and Sri Lanka. Ranil Wickremesinghe wanted to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the arrival of the Portuguese in Sri Lanka, as well.

Ranasinghe Premadasa was President of Sri Lanka from 1989-1993.He   started a series of Gam Udawa in various locations. These were considered a waste of time and money and was abandoned once Premadasa was assassinated. Did the CIA coin ‘Gam udawa ‘asked Nicky Karunaratne.

Chandrika Kumaratunga was President from 1994-2005. There was an assassination attempt on President Chandrika Kumaratunga in December 1999.  USA’s FBI was asked to provide the final report.

During the 2002-2006 period, US was encouraged to intervene in the Eelam war. United States was designated as a Co-Chair to the Sri Lankan Peace Process of 2002, along with the European Union, Japan and Norway.  Confidential US diplomatic cables thrown up by Wikileaks showed that the US was far more active in the Peace Process that Japan or EU. Japan appeared the most prominent, but it was Norway and US that were handling the issues, reported analysts.

Military experts from UK, USA and India, three countries which opposed the war, were given an inside look at our armed forces. US Pacific Command invited by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe, carried out a comprehensive study of the armed forces, to see whether the government could defeat the LTTE.  They assured, in their top secret report that this would not happen. The army did not have the necessary equipment.  Air force    did not have a comprehensive air operational plan and lacked the equipment needed for surveillance and reconnaissance. US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was invited to advise on Sri Lanka’s intelligence. They used this to sit in on intelligence briefings. 

The Pacific Command made a series of recommendations, which if implemented, would have led to defeat in the Eelam war for the government. One recommendation was that the 53 Division should be removed from the Jaffna peninsula. Its armour, artillery   should be allocated to other Divisions, its staff for other duties, including at training facilities and military school.  The 53 division comprised Army Commandos, Special Forces and the Air Mobile Brigade.  It was one of the finest fighting formations ever deployed against the LTTE. Army headquarters ignored the recommendation.

US had arranged in August 2006 for Sri Lanka army to participate in a military exercise together with US army. Kamal Gunaratne reported that representatives from Sri Lanka army, navy, air force and US marines were present at a meeting at US embassy on 7.8.2006 to discuss plans for the exercise. They were planning to go the next day to look at the proposed exercise compounds at Hambantota and Kuda Oya.

 When Eelam War IV ended in 2009, stunned by the unexpected annihilation of the LTTE and fearing a grave threat to US security interests in the region, the US Senate Committee on Foreign relations sent 2 members to Sri Lanka in Nov 2009, to report. John Kerry, US Secretary of State, then circulated the report to the rest of the Committee. They were asked to make recommendation to increase US leverage in Sri Lanka and for securing long term US strategic interests.

Foreign Relations committee of the US Senate then issued a report which stressed the strategic importance of Sri Lanka to the US. The report said that Sri Lanka is very important to the US. It is located at the nexus of crucial maritime trading routes in the Indian Ocean connecting Europe and Middle East to China and the rest of Asia.” An alliance must be maintained. It is necessary to recast the foreign policy. US was advised to adopt a less confrontational approach to Sri Lanka. 

This recommendation does not appear to have been followed. Instead, USA decided on yet another regime change. A clear attempt at ‘regime change’ was made at the Presidential election of 2010. Mahinda Rajapaksa was considered an obstacle to US interests in Sri Lanka. Rajapakse is considered a threat to US, he is drifting towards China, said USA. Sarath Fonseka was persuaded to   contest Rajapakse for the post of President. Many said Fonseka was a tool of the US government and western interests.

Fonseka had been given permanent residency in USA. Fonseka went to the US in Sept 2008 to tour Washington, while the Sri Lanka army was fighting at Muhamalai and Kilinochchi.   He made another, trip to the US in 2009 with US Ambassador Blake ‘choreographing the moves’.  It was also rumored that USA had instructed Fonseka to give US exclusive access to the   Pulmoddai sands. (Daily News 28.1.10 p  7) .

Wikileaks leaked a classified US missive, dated 6.11. 2009, which showed that there was US involvement in the election. Asian Tribune said that a massive USD 140 million was pumped into the country through conduits, including NGOs that were friendly to US interests. ‘UK, US and Norway were supporting Sarath Fonseka,  said analyst. Sunday Observer ran a headline, ‘west behind moves to regime change’ and   said that if Fonseka won there would be external interference in Sri Lanka on an unprecedented scale. (Sunday Observer 24.1.10)  

Prior to the election Fonseka was moving to Colombo soldiers he considered loyal to him from the Sinha regiment and the Special Forces. He was also collecting deserters. After the elections results were announced, Fonseka and his entourage behaved peculiarly. Fonseka took up residence in a posh hotel, hiring a whole floor, together with, as I recall, Karu Jayasuriya Mangala Samaraweera and army deserters. A few slaps had been exchanged.

I thought ( Kamalika Pieris)  at the time  that Fonseka’s American handlers had arrived to take over the country. Nothing happened however, the defeated group eventually left the hotel. President Rajapaksa had taken the precaution of stationing the army in front of this hotel.

We see a clear alignment of political forces here,   said one analyst. Those who work for foreign masters are with Fonseka, while those concerned about the long term interest of Sri Lanka are solidly behind Rajapakse.

 Mahinda Rajapaksa won the 2010 election. After the election, there was open discussion about the impending foreign intervention in Sri Lanka. Gunadasa Amarasekera said in 2010, ‘We should now be able to see the conspiracy which had been initiated, hatched and executed meticulously going from stage to stage. This is the last stage of that conspiracy and probably the most decisive one which would determine whether we would be able to preserve our country. They would have worked on it for quite some time.

The Jathika Sangha Sammelanaya said, at a press conference in 2012 that international conspiracies were being hatched to undermine the sovereignty and independence of Sri Lanka.

There is a strong lobby within the foreign ministry among career diplomats who favor collaboration with the west, reported  Sunday Island in  April 2012. Sri Lanka  has been secretly engaging with USA,  it said. An email saying that Sri Lanka  was in close consultation with US turned out to be true, the report concluded.

After the Eelam  victory , the US initiated a series of Resolutions against Sri Lanka at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, starting in 2012. These were intended to nullify the Eelam victory by asking for an external inquiry into the final war.  The first US resolution at Geneva 2012 is a scene setter,  said Dayan Jayatilleka.  It sets the scene for an external inquiry, if  Sri Lanka refuses to cooperate.

The UN HRC consists of persons unfamiliar with Sri Lanka  but have a passing interest in international affairs,  observed Kamal Wickremasinghe. Rajiva Wijesinha, who was in Geneva at the time, said , one or two individuals with  agendas regarding  Sri Lanka were targeting us with a political motivation, the rest were simply idealistic.

The media warned in 2012 that protesters at demonstrations should be careful that they are not being manipulated by foreign interests. They should check if any of the NGOs involved are funded by foreign intelligence organisations.

In 2013 there was an explosive demonstration at Rathupaswela. Residents of Rathupaswela, Weliweriya, Balummahara and several other villages had been complaining for some time that their well water was contaminated, because of Venigros, a rubber glove factory, owned by Dipped Products Company, which was located near Weliweriya.

 This was a long standing issue, under discussion at the time. Action had been taken to bring about long term solution. The government has already provided a temporary solution to the drinking water problem reported the government.

Since the residents did not give consent to obtain pipe borne water the Pradeshiya Sabhas in Mahara and Gampaha set up tanks of drinking water free of charge. The Mahara PS has set up 14 tanks of 500 litre capacity and 33 tanks of 1,000 litre capacity while the Gampaha PS had distributed 200 tanks of both 500 and 1,000 litre capacity, said the government.

Rev. Lakpriya Nonis of St. Anthony’s Church had told Human Rights Commission Sri Lanka, that there had been a very successful meeting with Secretary/Defence, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and the Defence Secretary agreed to grant all the assistance requested.

Despite this from July 24 to August 2nd 2013, there was a spate of public demonstrations in the area. In addition to demonstrations outside the factory, demonstrators blocked traffic on the Kandy main road and New Kandy Road.  A demonstration at Rathupaswala Junction blocked Weliweriya road .There was another demonstration at  Rathupaswala playground. The demonstrators  damaged stalls at   the weekly fair in Weliweriya town and set a three wheeler on fire.

The authorities tried to settle the matter.  The MP for Gampaha District , the  Chairman of the Western Provincial Council ,chairmen of Mahara and Gampaha pradeshiya sabhas, District Secretary of Gampaha, the management of the factory, 45 representatives of the demonstrators and the police held a 3 and half hour meeting  and the factory was shut it down temporarily on July 31.

But this did not stop the demonstration. Around 5000 people participated in the demonstration on 02.08.2013. Water and  tear gas were used to disperse the crowd but the demonstrators continued their agitation. The army arrived. The demonstrators  hurled stones and petrol bombs at the army.  Three  persons were shot and killed.

Human Rights Watch commented on the matter, so did the US embassy. The accusations were fiercely resisted by the government who replied  that they were going to see whether there had been any external forces  behind the incident, instigating people against the security forces personnel.

The parish priest of St. Anthony’s Church Gampaha has described how forces stormed the church and assaulted  persons who had taken refuge there.  The government flatly  rejected the accusation that the security forces had fired at those who had sought refuge in a church.

The Rathupaswela water  matter had been under discussion for some time, it was nothing new pointed out Shenali Waduge. Why were  the protesters carrying petrol bombs if it was a peaceful assembly. Were they thugs brought from outside. hen the  same people gang up together and come up with the same set of notions joined by the US Embassy then you wonder whether there is something more than merely protesting over water, she said.

Who gave the order to send in troops with assault rifles and body armour. Was the CIA behind this asked  Dayan Jayatilleke. He pointed out that the demonstration took place just three weeks before UN High Commissioner for Human Rights was  due to visits Sri Lanka. The demonstration would help to push the call for an international inquiry and for  opening  an office of the High Commissioner in Sri Lanka.  Both Shenali and Dayan spoke of a possible Arab Spring strategy.    But analysts observed   There is lack of interest in the part of the general public to create a Sri Lanka spring.”  The result was that Venigros relocated  successfully to the Biyagama Free Trade Zone. The villagers in Rathupaswela lost their jobs at Venigro, concluded observers.

In 2014, President Rajapakse said certain powerful nations with vested interest are trying to destabilize countries by installing puppet leaders as head of state. Foreign forces which do not wish to see a stable government in Sri Lanka are plotting with some political elements to set up a puppet government, he added.  Nalin de Silva said ‘What the west wanted is another government like that of Ranil and Chandrika, between 2002 and 2004 when the ceasefire agreement was signed.’

Mahinda Rajapaksa did not wait till his term of office as President ended in 2016 he contested again in 2015 and lost.  He was replaced by the USA controlled puppet government known as Yahapalana government .I have described the activities of the Yahapalana government in my Yahapalana series published in Lankaweb. Here  is new information.

Yahapalana    government supported a resolution sponsored by USA at the UN Human Rights  Council, where it admitted  that  the government of Sri Lanka , its own government had committed war crimes in the Eelam War.

Mangala Samaraweera   who was Foreign minister at the time said,  the final text of the  2015 Geneva resolution was largely negotiated over the telephone, with the President and I at the same hotel in New York, and the Prime Minister in Colombo accompanied by the Secretary to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at the time and the Ambassador of the US and High Commissioner of the UK. Once consensus was reached, the Secretary to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, coordinated with Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva and conveyed the decision of the Government of Sri Lanka to the Human Rights Council. .

The Yahapalana appointment of Mahesh Senanayake as Army Commander   shows a link to the USA. Mahesh Senanayake had worked with the US Army as Senior Manager, Project Management of Afghan Operations and Strategic Planning for Civil Reserved Air Fleet (CRAF). (Year unspecified). He had left Sri Lanka after the defeat of Sarath Fonseka in 2010. Within 48 hours after the change of government in January 2015, Senanayake returned from overseas,  was reinstated and appointed  Army Commander  in 2017. Several officers above Senanayake were over looked in making the appointment.

In 2020, Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe said that during Yahapalana rule, Rajitha Senaratne, Patali Champika Ranawaka, Sarath Fonseka, Arjuna Ranatunga and JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake had tried to have Gotabaya Rajapaksa arrested over the Avant-Garde controversy. A Cabinet paper had  also been submitted seeking approval for stripping the members of Rajapaksa family of their civic rights. Their target was to put at least one member of the Rajapaksa family behind bars every week,” Rajapakshe said. ( Continued)

ADDITIONS

  • In 2010 USAID was planning  to take 13 government officials from Central and Provincial ministries on a seven day study tour of Timor to see how land ownership issues are being resolved in east Timor. Timor is yet emerging form five century of Portuguese oppression, 50 years of Indonesian rule and almost a decade of internal conflict; it is not possible to believe that this fledgling adminstration has developed such a fine system of land settlements. This tour should be viewed with suspicion and what is US doing in Timor which is a sort of Australian protectorate, asked critics.
  • In 2013 USA wanted  to fund two project  to the tune of 1 million dollars. One for increasing support and safety or journalists and the other for facilitating reconciliation. In the first, they want to strengthen the independent media in the area of investigative journalism. It will include journalists in Sinhala, Tamil and English and for  journalists form all parts of the country, not just Colombo.  The second project they  would identify leaders, including youth and women, and would support action in ‘pilot communities’ 

Gotabaya Rajapaksa said that this was a Trojan horse. This could be a long term project to help US long term objectives in Sri Lanka.  This plan to initiate several programme in organizing civil society groups in Sri Lanka and empowering youth with a view to support the reconciliation process’ sounds suspiciously like a programme of funding and training of internal subversive groups, said Kamal Wickremasinghe.

  • In 2018, the  You Lead programme  of USAID and Microsoft Sri Lanka signed a partnership to launch the new Youth Works information technology portal at the Ministry of Skills Development and Vocational Training in Colombo. USAID funds Youth Works under its $12 million You Lead initiative that supports youth employability, entrepreneurship, and skills development in Sri Lanka.

You Lead is implemented by the International Executive Service Corps (IESC) and administered by the Volunteers for Economic Growth Alliance (VEGA) .You Lead will work with Microsoft, the Ministry of Skills Development and Vocational Training, and the private sector to develop and upload content for the Youth Works portal in Sinhala, Tamil and English.

Youth Works is a flexible portal that portal will provide career guidance, technical and vocational courses, a mentorship platform, job placements, and a variety of other tools to support Sri Lanka’s young job-seekers and entrepreneurs. The portal is currently being used in 18 countries and has helped more than 26 million youth over the past two years to strengthen their skills, find employment, or start their own businesses.

  • In 2019 More than forty young Sri Lankan leaders travelled to Colombo from across the country to take part in U.S. Embassy-sponsored workshops on leadership and  skill building. The participants were all members of the U.S. Embassy’s Youth Forum programme, which is conducted by the American Corners in Colombo, Kandy, Jaffna, and Matara. After the Colombo workshops were over, the participants travelled to Jaffna to set up a Reading Corner at a local school.

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