“In the meantime, these paramilitary groups give the GSL a measure of deniability. Jaffna Government Agent K. Ganesh told us that some military commanders in Jaffna, including Major General Chandrasiri, want to clamp down on paramilitaries but have orders from Defense Secretary Gothabaya Rajapaksa to not interfere with the paramilitaries on the grounds that they are doing ‘work’ that the military cannot do because of international scrutiny. On December 7, 2006, Chandrasiri confided to Ambassador Blake in Jaffna that the Defense Ministry had instructed him not to interfere with ‘military intelligence’ operations (ref E).” the US Embassy Colombo informed Washington.
The Colombo Telegraph found the related leaked cable from the WikiLeaks database. The cable is classified as “SECRET” and discuses Sri Lanka’s paramilitary operations and written by the Ambassador Robert O. Blake.
Under the subheading “GSL Finds Paramilitaries Useful” the Ambassador wrote “The GSL sees several advantages in allowing paramilitary groups to operate in the country. Paramilitary groups in the North and East help the GSL fight the LTTE and compete with the LTTE for public support and new recruits. These groups also enhance security in Colombo by kidnapping and sometimes killing those suspected of working with the LTTE. Frequent abductions by paramilitaries keep critics of the GSL fearful and quiet. Ultimately, the GSL’s objective is to turn Karuna and EPDP leader Douglas Devananda into pro-GSL political leaders in the East and North, respectively. The government hopes this will ensure long term control over these areas even if some form of devolution is instituted.”
“The GSL has a history of funding paramilitary groups. Popular Tamil TV talk show host Sri Ranga Jeyaratnam (strictly protect), who has close personal ties to the Rajapaksa family, pointed out that under former President Kumaratunga, the GSL had begun the practice of paying paramilitaries to refrain from engaging in criminal pursuits. Several Embassy interlocutors have independently confirmed this. However, Ranga said that the current government, cash-strapped, has ended this arrangement. Instead, he alleged, Defense Secretary Gothabaya Rajapaksa has authorized EPDP and Karuna to collect the money from Tamil businessmen. This may account for the sharp rise in lawlessness, especially extortion and kidnapping, that many have documented in Vavuniya and Colombo. Even though EPDP and Karuna are each comprised nearly exclusively of ethnic Tamils, the crimes that they commit are almost always against other Tamils. Karuna Group Becomes Pre-eminent Paramilitary” Blake further wrote.