GTF lobbies Solheim and key Norwegian MPs


By Shamindra Ferdinando

In the wake Norway pledging its vote for US-led resolution against Sri Lanka at the current session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva, a delegation from the Global Tamil Forum (GTF) met Norwegian politicians last Friday (March 16) to intensify their campaign against President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s government.

 The GTF delegation discussed the situation with one-time peace facilitator Erik Solheim, now Norway’s Minister of Environment and International Development, Opposition and Conservative party leader Ms Erna Solberg and MP Karin Woldseth, a key member of Foreign Affairs and Defence Parliamentary Select Committee.  

Norway is one of the 47 members of the UNHRC. Both US and Norway functioned as Sri Lanka’s peace co-chairs, along with the EU and Japan. Except Japan all other members of the group have lambasted Sri Lanka over accountability issues, whereas Japan took softer stand.   The Sri Lankan government welcomed the Japanese declaration that no country has a perfect human rights record.

GTF’s Suren Surendiran told an event organized by the GoSL on the sidelines of the ongoing UNHRC sessions that an international inquiry was needed in Sri Lanka, though the global Tamil community accepted some positive features in the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) report.

Responding o a query by The Sunday Island in Geneva, Surendiran emphasized the right of the Diaspora to push for an external inquiry on the basis of UNSG Ban Ki-moon’s Panel of Experts (PoE) report.

External Affairs Ministry sources told The Sunday Island that those who had been working for the LTTE established the GTF on Feb. 24, 2010 in the UK parliament in the presence of UK Foreign Secretary, David Hague and his predecessor, David Miliband, to pursue the Eelam project. Those at the helm of the organization now wouldn’t have dared, when the LTTE was in control, sources said.

Miliband spearheads the ‘Channel 4’ attack on Sri Lanka in ‘Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields: War Crimes Unpunished’ launched last week. The Labour heavyweight demanded an international probe on Sri Lanka.

Responding to a query, a senior government official said that the GTF’s visit to Oslo took place in the wake of Norway indicting mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik for killing of 77 persons, mostly children, to protest against large scale migration of Muslims to Europe and Scandinavian countries.

The assassin declared that his strategy was influenced by the LTTE massacring Muslims in the Northern and Eastern Provinces at an early stage of the conflict in Sri Lanka.

Norwegian prosecutors earlier this month indicted Breivik, a former Norwegian diplomat’s son, of terror and murder charges for slaying 77 people in a bomb and shooting rampage but said the confessed mass killer likely won’t go to prison for the country’s worst peacetime massacre.

They said they considered the 33-year-old Right-wing extremist psychotic and would seek a sentence of involuntary commitment to psychiatric care instead of imprisonment unless new information about his mental health emerges during the trial set to start in April.

As expected, they charged him under provisions in Norway’s anti-terror law that refers to violent acts intended to disrupt key government functions or spread fear among the population.

Breivik has confessed to the July 22 attacks but denies criminal guilt, portraying the victims as "traitors" for embracing immigration policies he claims will result in an Islamic colonization of Norway.

Failed peace facilitator Norway last week told Sri Lanka to address violations of international laws that allegedly took place during its battle against the LTTE.

In a statement before the current session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) session, Norway said that it expected Sri Lanka to implement recommendations of Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) and to address alleged violations of international law without delay. Norway said that it would support the US-resolution on Sri Lanka.

Denmark’s Permanent Representative in Geneva, Ambassador Steffen Smidt, on behalf of the EU stepped-up pressure on Sri Lanka over accountability issues. He reiterated: "The protection of human rights, the respect of the rule of law and addressing the issue of accountability are, in addition to their intrinsic value, necessary steps towards national reconciliation.

The EU demanded that Sri Lanka should engage constructively with the UNSG Ban Ki-moon and the UNHRC on the ‘Darusman report’ as well as the implementation of the LLRC recommendations.

A senior government spokesman said that that those demanding accountability on the part of Sri Lanka remained silent on atrocities committed by the LTTE. The official urged Norway and EU to inquire into the alleged involvement of sections of the Tamil Diaspora in providing arms, ammunition and equipment to the LTTE and raising funds on behalf of the LTTE.

Norway and the EU had also refrained from commenting on atrocities committed by Western forces since 9/11, the official said, alleging Western powers were using human rights as an excuse to destabilize those refusing to follow their dictates.

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