SL condemns Norway-LTTE powwow


By Shamindra Ferdinando

The government has strongly protested to Norway for having discussions with the Global Tamil Forum (GTF) in the run-up to the forthcoming vote on a resolution moved by the US, targeting Sri Lanka at the current sessions of the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Authoritative sources told The Island that Norway had timed the meeting to send a strong signal to those countries who have still not decided to back the US move. Responding to a query, sources said that Sri Lanka’s ambassador in Oslo had pointed out that Norway was continuing to entertain a group that was committed to undermine the sovereignty and territorial integrity of a democratic country, through activities and an ideology of an internationally designated separatist terror organization, which carried out a violent campaign and a programme of ethnic cleansing in Sri Lanka.

The GoSL alleged that such meetings would in no way contribute to the ongoing reconciliation efforts in Sri Lanka. "We continue to tell other parliamentarians and officials on the current situation in Sri Lanka, while strongly urging them to disregard the false claims made by those still pursuing a separatist agenda," a senior diplomatic source said.

GTF spokesman, Suren Surendiran said that they had the opportunity to meet Environment and International Development Minister Erik Solheim,

leader of the Opposition and Conservative Party Leader Ms Erna Solberg, MP and Ms Karin S Woldseth, MP, of the Progress Party, who is a member of the Foreign Affairs and Defence Parliamentary Select Committee. All three meetings took place last Friday. The Europe-based official told The Island that they were pursuing an international war crimes inquiry.

Sri Lankan officials described the Norwegian move as one that was obviously hostile towards the GoSL, especially in the wake of joint US-EU action against the country. Geneva-based sources said that the US and the EU had launched a fresh offensive, leading to the vote. "Even those countries supportive of the US-EU effort had been taken aback by the intensity of the campaign," sources said, adding that the Sri Lanka delegation was fighting back.

Well informed sources said that two Norwegian Opposition right wing MPs had told the GTF delegation that whatever their grievances, they had to be addressed by the GoSL, hence the need to work within the democratic framework in SL. The Norwegians had pointed out that though they could raise the SL issue in Oslo, the Tamil Diaspora should explore the possibility of reaching an agreement with the GoSL.

Sources said that their position had been different from that of Minister Solheim, who expressed his disappointment with the US-led resolution. The one-time Norwegian peace facilitator in Sri Lanka had asserted that the resolution was not strong enough as the US diluted the proposal in a bid to secure the support of those countries, which weren’t supportive of the original draft.

Norway is a member of the 47-member UNHRC. Its three-year term comes to an end coming December.

The External Affairs Ministry said that Norway seemed obviously divided over its position with regard to the LTTE rump. Sources recalled how the opposition Conservative party had called publicly for the banning of the LTTE in Norway.  "The other party that was involved in the discussions, the Progress party, is even more stronger in their views on the LTTE as they called for anyone involved in any terror organization in Norway to be ‘expelled’ from the country."

Sources pointed out that Minister Solheim represented the (Socialist Left-SV) which is now struggling on the political front having the support of only 3.7 % in opinion polls, below the minimum 4 % cutoff needed to obtain parliamentary representation.

Oslo-based sources said that a section of the Norwegian establishment continued to ignore the conduct of the LTTE, particularly those operations directed at civilians, including Tamils.

"The LTTE’s actions are relevant also to the Norwegian people because of how Breivik has learnt from them—i.e. targeting innocent civilians and state property and employees in his skewed thinking of using violent means to achieve ‘ethnic cleansing—much like the LTTE," sources said, adding that Norway appointed a Special Commission to investigate the Oslo massacre.

Comparing the domestic commissions appointed by the respective governments—LLRC & the 22 July Commission, sources said that both processes were justifiable democratic actions not to please external elements, but to strengthen the domestic ‘home-grown’ processes.  "Just like Norway, Sri Lanka, too, is addressing the spread of hatred by some elements still harboring a misguided ‘mono-ethnic’ agenda, providing security to its people and curbing illegal fund collection and arms/human smuggling networks, in order to strengthen an inclusive and free society to provide equitable economic growth to the people."

How will the Norwegians react if some party raised the report on the Oslo massacre at a future UNHRC session, sources queried.

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