THE BIRTH AND DEATH OF TAMIL EELAM: FROM MULLAITHEEVU TO OSLO

S.M.M.Bazeer

‘The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb,

And the leopard shall lie down with the kid;

And the calf and the young lion and the fatling together.’

Isaiah 17:6

Norway has been vehemently criticized for its peace negotiations in Sri Lanka, not only by the Sinhalese
nationalistic elements but also by anti-LTTE, Tamil political parties since the signing of the CFA in February 2002. Despite the abrupt abrogation of the CFA, Norway seems to be undeterred and still demonstrates its interest in Sri Lanka in one way or another.

The long and consistent Tamil Diaspora’s efforts with Norway, spanning over two decades, eventually
paved way for Norway’s negotiation. Norway’s role in Sri Lanka was seen as an extension of its peace process in Guatemala, Sudan, Cyprus, Colombia,and the former Yugoslavia.The new Oil rich Norwegians have enough wealth to invest in peace efforts in the troubled parts of the world. Within decades, Oslo became known as the “Capital of Peace”. Norway’s role in Palestine enthused its search for troubled regions to poke its nose into, aided by NATO’s encouragement. Norway’s peace negotiation in Palestine
irked few top level members of the PLO and those who identified with the Palestinian people. Some strong opponents to Norway’s engagement in the peace process were Mahmoud Darwish; an acclaimed national
poet of Palestine and Edward W. Said; one of the world’s most eloquent advocates of the Palestinian cause. The late Edward W. Said condemned the USA backed peace process and described it as “obscenely
one-sided”. It is also learnt that Norway showed its enthusiasm in Palestinian affairs long before, which eventually led to signing the OSLO Pact in 1993.

The Palestinian national poet; the late Mahmoud Darwish ( ) who died last year had been an elected member of the PLO’s (Palestinian Liberation organization) executive committee. He resigned in 1993 in protest over the Oslo Peace accords which Arafat signed with Israel. When Edward Said condemned the Palestinian Authority as an oppressive body against the Palestinians, Mahmoud Darwish remarked “I knew that the
agreement held out no promise that we would reach true peace, based on independence for the Palestinians and the end of the Israel occupation”. Here the prominent members of the PLO confronted Arafat and stood firm in their opposition to Norway’s Peace Accord. On the contrary, the LTTE and their Diaspora supporters were exuberant when Norway succeeded to be the mediator in the peace process in Sri Lanka, whilst the majority of the Sinhalese and Muslims were unconvinced by their altruistic façade. The
Tamils in Sri Lanka also showed their solidarity with the LTTE‘s approval of the Norwegian Peace mission. As the LTTE had never given up its thirst for Eelam despite having signed the CFA , the Tamil Diaspora remained hopeful that a “ Tamil Eelam “ would soon be born and continued their support in every possible way.

A startling story

Some months ago, I was surprised by a story that I came to know from a staunch Tamil nationalist about how Norway found a niche in Sri Lankan internal affairs, through its INGO. Norway seemed to have continued their role even though it had been diplomatically “kicked out” of Sri Lanka following the abrogation of the CFA, but the evidence continues to emerge that Norway is persistent in their dreary mission of founding a separate state for” Tamils” in Sri Lanka.

The Norwegian involvement in Sri Lanka must be a long hatched plan as my source; Tamil nationalist revealed to me. According to the revelation, it seems that the Cey-Nor that was set up in 1967 may have exceeded its role as INGO and interfered in internal affairs. The story continues like this:

It was in the late 1970’s, when a Norwegian CEYNOR official, was stationed in the North, witnessed the Tamil victims of the racial violence by the Sinhalese racist elements in 1977. He felt sympathetic towards
the Tamil people of the north and interacted with those who were keen on armed struggle. He was said to have been in agreement with Tamil nationalists in their fight for separation. He indicated to them that he would be prepared to help them with arms training provided that they would obtain a vast track of land near Mullaitheevu. This was the time, Premadasa was in office as the prime minister of Sri Lanka and a young Tamil group with vested interest approached the late Amirthalingam, the former leader of the opposition and the TULF leader, to acquire the land from Premadasa for use of “community activities”. It was told that Premadasa just listened to Amirthalingham and assured him of consideration of the matter. As things appeared to be at a stalemate, the group alternatively approached K.C Nithiyananthan , the former trade unionist who was close to Premadasa. KC asked the group whether they had approached Premadasa before and subsequently expressed his dissatisfaction as he felt that the request would have been
approved had he been approached first. However, Premadasa had the same reply for him. The narrator of the incident said that Prema, being a shrewd politician, may have thought something suspicious and avoided any commitments. It is not clear to me whether KC was aware of the purpose of those who sought
his help. According to my source there were a few others who could shed lights on further queries but unfortunately it was not possible for me to inquire
.

Although Eric invited me to Norway, as he could not find time to see me in London, during his peace mission, I was unavailable. Nevertheless, I visited Norway recently to participate in a conference
at Oslo University, where I met some hardcore LTTE members and people like Peter Schalk (Uppsala University )who candidly supports the LTTE. He even invited some of the Muslim academic participants to
visit Uppsala University to see many “White Tigers”, At the Conference, many pro-LTTE stalwarts participated including Sithy Vinayagar; a Norway citizen who is very popular among the Tamil community in Norway for his staunch support for the LTTE and his support for the Tamil asylum seekers. He was running a travel agency where he had once hung a photograph that he took with the LTTE leader; Prabakaran but later removed it for some unknown reason. HE had also established contacts at all levels within the Norwegian government to enhance his propaganda campaign and popularity. During my presentation of my paper at the Oslo University, I heard him murmur that we (Muslims) would be facing the dilemma of the Biharis. However he was a man of self control and believed that there was no one to save Tamils but Pirabakaran.

He later got into an argument with me about the expulsion of the Muslims by the LTTE, a Norwegian researcher butted in to beef up my argument. Nonetheless, V.I.Jeyapalan ( a poet), Sitthy, Selvin ( the former representative of the LTTE Peace Secretariat) and few others sought a meeting with me, which I rejected
for fear of my personal safety.

I also came to know that Oslo University had offered training to Segu Dawood Basheer in Norway where I can only gather what role had been played by V.I. Jeyapalan, the former PLOTE member and the present LTTE campaigner. Norway was prompted to deal with those who could easily fall in line. It is not a surprise that Segu Dawood Basheer was thus enjoyed Norway’s hospitality for training at Oslo University.

It is unfortunate that some outstanding Norwegian and Scandinavian academics have identified with the LTTE in their struggle for a separate state, and may have influenced the politicians of their countries. In Norway, Dr. Kristian Stokke of Oslo University had published his papers titled “Building the Tamil Eelam state: emerging state institutions and forms of governance in LTTE controlled areas in Sri Lanka”
. His publication had been academically challenged by a Tamil academic from Jaffna, Dr. Muttukrishna Sarvananthan, who published his paper titled “In Pursuit of a Mythical State of Tamil Eelam: a rejoinder to Kristian Stokke”

Nevertheless, recent military advances and the LTTE’s near defeat appear to have persuaded Eric Solheim to change his stance on LTTE ideologies and demand the surrender of arms. Eric’s remark infuriated the LTTE campaigners and politicians in Norway.It is reported that Norway’s Balasingham Yogarajha publicly leveled his criticism against Norway whilst also admitting that he has not much knowledge about the Hamas in a recent media interview. ( News magazine: NyTid number 6/2009 ) He also admitted that he supports the LTTE politically and morally. He was frequently seen as a vocal supporter of the LTTE and almost had to play a low profile in the Labour party in Norway.

On the contrary to Eric’s comment, Raymond Johansen the Secretary (Deputy) to Norwegian Foreign minister, remarked that “ Tamil Nadu “ is the only solution to the Tamil problem in Sri Lanka”
thus meaning that “ Tamil Eelam is the only solution to Tamils, when he replied to a question concerning Norwegian aspirations in Sri Lanka in a Parliamentary International Forum meeting with Kurdish people that was held on the 20th January 2009 with regards to the “ Kurdish People”.

This is indeed a matter of serious concern to Sri Lanka which still believes their altruistic intentions of promoting peace in Sri Lanka. If the deputy foreign minister believes that “Tamil eelam” is the only solution, how could Sri Lanka maintain a diplomatic relationship with the country that promotes separation?

February 2009

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