Return of Norwegians


Tore Hattrem

Norwegian Foreign Secretary Tore Hattrem, who was their Ambassador here at the time the war was concluded, was recently on a visit here; he even travelled to the North where he had discussions with Chief Minister Wigneswaran; he also had talks with the Leader of the Opposition Sambandan; his visit follows that of Borge Brende Foreign Minister of Norway.

We wonder as to whether our government is aware of what was discussed. It is a fact that Norway sympathizes with the Tamil people after hearing of what had happened to them after 1956 and particularly in 1983. They mistakenly equate them with the Jews who suffered under the Nazis, hence their support for the Tamils.

Norway has a population of 5.1million (July 2014). Norway’s Constitution is the oldest still in force in Europe, dating back to 1814, but rights of national minorities are not even included in its constitution. Norway has oil and is one of the richest countries in the world.

It has the largest number of Sri Lanka Tamils outside of our country. (They have been there from the sixties working in the fish industry; most from Prabhakaran’s village.) They are today a very powerful political group. They were the largest single source of funds for the LTTE.

Norway elevated the LTTE to the status of sole "sole representative of the Tamil community". It always treated the LTTE and the Sri Lankan government as ‘equals’. It was Solheim, who covertly built up the LTTE into a military force comparable in strength to the Sri Lankan armed forces. Norway (Solheim together with Balasingham) ‘engineered’ a Ceasefire Agreement between the government and the LTTE; they provided sophisticated satellite communication equipment to the LTTE during the 2002 ceasefire to enable them to reach the Tamil Diaspora and to organize their arms supplies; the Communication Equipment was obtained through the Norwegian Embassy and through the Peace Secretariat of the government, with the approval of the then Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. Solheim also ensured that a Norwegian headed the Monitoring Mission, to protect the LTTE.

The so called Monitoring Mission overlooked over 250 violations of the Ceasefire Agreement by the LTTE. In October 2003, Trygve Tellefsen (then head of the SLMM) even forewarned the LTTE about an impending Navy attack by the Sri Lanka Navy on an LTTE arms shipment. Norway helped the LTTE establish relations with Eritrea, organized purchases of arms, ammunition and other military equipment from a number of sources, using Eritrean End-user certificates. Norway facilitated the training of LTTE sea tigers in islands off Thailand and Malaysia. Solheim it was, who with the late Balasingham, crafted the PTOMS Agreement, which was most fortunately thrown out by our Supreme Court; he was also involved in the drafting of the ISGA, the interim Agreement to rule the North and East which was still born.

Norway facilitated travel to Europe for LTTE leaders, prior to the EU proscription of the LTTE (thanks to the late Lakshman Kadirgamar), and arranged meetings with European politicians under the cover of "fact-finding missions". Norway also helped them organize the Tamil Diaspora to become what it is today. It also allowed Norwegian Government-funded NGOs like the Norwegian People’s Aid to ‘donate’ heavy earth-moving vehicles, trucks, electricity generators, water pumps, tents, and other equipment to the LTTE which was more than useful to the LTTE to fight the war.

Norway also funded publications like Professor Kristian Stokke’s "Building the Tamil Eelam State", Third World Quarterly 27 (2006), which purported to ‘examine’ the ‘new state’ institutions, to prepare for the formal division of Sri Lanka.

It also assisted the Icelandic diplomat Bjarni Vestmann to enter the country on a tourist visa in October 2007, and arranged a clandestine meeting with Tamilselvan. As stated earlier, the SLMM and Norway ignored hundreds and hundreds of cease-fire violations and serious human rights violations, including child soldier recruitment, committed by the LTTE.

The question that arises is why this government invited the Norwegians to return. There is no doubt whatsoever that Norway is seeking to advance her political interests to please its Tamil constituency in Norway at our expense.

Norway being the richest country in Europe must be told that they could, if it so wishes, become a partner in the infrastructure development of this country. Some major projects can be identified such as perhaps an underground rail network to link greater Colombo with the centre or a highway to Badulla or the superhighway to Jaffna, if that has not already been given to India or China. But, under no circumstances should Norway be allowed to get involved in anything political.

KG and SW

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