An US Commando Force was at Katunayake in April 2009 prepared for a So-called ‘Humanitarian Intervention’

Chandre Dharma-wardana, an Item arising from our recent email exchanges and taken from his website …. ……….with emphasis in different colours added by me as Editor, Thuppahi

Rohitha Bogollagama was the Foreign Mininster (FM) in 2009, during the last days of the Eelam War-IV. On October 20, 2013 evening, I had a conversation with him in the presence of Mohanil Samarakoon (Address: 7 Rajapihilla Terrace, Kandy). We were at the Estate bungalow of the late Mrs. Sharmini Maththew, Korakaha Estate, Kurunegala. This was after dinner, when all other guests had moved out to the veranda. I was not personally known to Mr. Bogollagama until that afternoon. The three of us lingered further, seated around the dining table. I asked Mr. Bogollagama about the last days of the war. He spoke willingly, and with no further encouragement from me. 

Rohitha Bogollagama

Later it occurred to me that many of the things stated by Mr. Bogollagama were of historical significance; hence I wrote down from memory a brief synopsis of our conversation the following day, after I returned to Colombo. What Mr. Bogollagama said was as follows.

War Situation Map on 6th March –compiled by Citizen Silva for Numbers Game

It was at the last stages of the Nandikadal standoff with Prabhakaran holding onto an unknown number of people as human shields. Ambassador Robert Blake had telephoned Mr. Bogollagama and asked for permission to land an aircraft full of US commandos at Katunayake. The commando are to facilitate and if necessary force a “negotiated end” to an impending human catastrophe by (a) freeing the hostages, (c) giving amnesty to the lower LTTE cadre, and (c) disarming and taking the LTTE leadership into the custody of “neutral hands”. 

The Foreign Minister had informed Mr. Blake that only the President can take such an important decision, and that he cannot help Mr. Blake who should go directly to the President, Mahinda Rajapaksa. However, Mr. Blake had requested access to Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa through the Foreign Minister. In reply, the FM had said that the President cannot be reached for at least several hours as he is in Parliament. Mr. Blake had declined to accept that explanation, and insisted on the urgency of the request, which was in fact “a demand from the US itself”. However, when Mr. Blake found himself unable to reach Mr. Rajapaksa through the FM, or through the Defense Secretary etc., he had again called the FM and told him that commandos MUST land.  “Look, Rohitha, if they don’t land, my career is finished. But, no matter how, the US will find a way to land the commandos as there is no plan to fly them back.”

Then the FM had said, “well, I will try to talk to the President on a very urgent basis.” Apparently, the FM had talked to the President while in Parliament, and agreed to try to delay the matter as far as possible, and that the President had said that he will contact Blake as soon as he has made a decision on the mater after consultations. Finally, a decision had been conveyed to Bogollagama, who conveyed the message to Ambassador Blake. The President has agreed to allow the plane (or two small planes?) full of US commandos to land in an Army-designated section of the Katunayake airport, with the proviso that the commandos remain in the plane, without stepping on Sri Lankan soil. 

Blake had accepted the compromise “as being sufficient for the moment”, with the understanding that further discussions between the US and the SL authorities will be used immediately to resolve the “impending humanitarian catastrophe“. One or two US planes full of commandos had landed in Katunayake, presumably just prior to the breaching of the LTTE fortifications by the Sri Lankan army. The commandos had been at Katunayake for at least 24 hours, though not on the ground.

Meanwhile, Ministers Miliband (UK) and Kouchner (France) too had arrived in Sri Lanka, while the UN had sent their representative Nambiar, as well as reporters like Marie Colvin who were in touch with the UN envoy. The breaching of the bund (earthen wall of almost three meters ?) by the army removed the main excuse used by the Western powers for the intervention, namely, the claim of a “huge humanitarian catastrophe” that they were there to avert.

This account given by the FM was written down in 2016 by Chandre Dharmawardana []. This has been again re-visited on 4-May-2018 at the request of Prof. Roberts.)

COMMENTS from Chandre Dharma-wardana

  • If the army had not succeeded in breaching the LTTE bund, and if there had been any delay, the Western powers would have assembled enough power to intervene and take the Sri Lankan civil war to a new level of international management, perhaps leading to a Kosovo-style solution.
  • One might ask, if the Sri Lankan army had fought tooth and limb to bring down the LTTE, why should it, at the very end of its campaign, hand over the LTTE leadership to “neutral hands”? Didn’t these neutral hands meet with Prabhakaran for many long years, and build him up as a force equal to the elected government of Sri Lanka?
  • The Darusman report identified three accusations against the then government:
  • The 4th resolution was the co-sponsoring of the above resolutions at Geneva by the Foreign Minster Mangala Samaraweera in 2015.



Filed under accountability, american imperialism, authoritarian regimes, citizen journalism, governance, historical interpretation, human rights, Indian Ocean politics, landscape wondrous, law of armed conflict, legal issues, life stories, military strategy, politIcal discourse, power politics, Rajapaksa regime, religiosity, security, self-reflexivity, Sinhala-Tamil Relations, Sri Lankan cricket, Tamil civilians, Tamil Tiger fighters, the imaginary and the real, truth as casualty of war, unusual people, wikileaks, world events & processes

4 responses to “An US Commando Force was at Katunayake in April 2009 prepared for a So-called ‘Humanitarian Intervention’

  1. Pingback: The Bogollagama Gem: Thoughts on the Threatening US Spectre in March-May 2009 | Thuppahi's Blog

  2. jay

    Thank you for this information Roberts. I am studying this subject at the moment. Can I have your email address? Need to discuss a bit.

  3. Pingback: Infantry Warfare and the Final Phase of Eelam War IV: Where Laymen Blunder into Infantile Assessments | Thuppahi's Blog

  4. Pingback: USA’s Threatening Interventions during the Eelam War in 2009 | Thuppahi's Blog

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