Spelling out the current orchestration against the independence of Eezham Tamils, the former Norwegian minister and failed peace facilitator, Erik Solhiem said that international support is not for a new separate state in Sri Lanka, but for a multicultural, multiracial and multireligious state. Given the age-old understanding of the phrase in the context of the island, Solheim in other words was only implying support to the annihilation of the ancient nation of Eezham Tamils. Solheim, recently removed from ministerial position by his own party was invited to address a gathering in Oslo on Tuesday, by a 2012-registered Tamil organisation led by Yogarajah Balasingham alias Basharan, who was rejected by Norwegian Tamils in the diaspora elections. Sharing the stage with Solheim was visiting TNA parliamentarian Suresh Premachandran.
Mr. Erik Solheim in his speech asserted that where he stands on the question of solution is also the position of India, EU, USA, and of a broader Western global community.
“It may not be the opinion of Iran or Pakistan or some other forces. But, it is most certainly the opinion of the influential parts of the international community in the United States and Europe,” he said, intimidating any dissension.
The former peace facilitator said nothing on the phenomenal failures of the ‘influential’ powers and the international system in the genocide of Eezham Tamils, but wanted the Eezham Tamils to “behave in an appropriate manner with the international community.”
He was defending the roles played by him and the US Asst. Secretary of State Robert Blake.
The implied message was that the affected people should not raise any voice against the failed system and against those who were steering the failures in the name of the system, but they should be submissive, put all blame on to themselves and “abide by the international community.”
He was harping on the example of Indian federalism, without seeing the context that in India, federalism of the presidencies and native states of the British Raj preceded the union achieved through a common nationalism, for the success of the continuity of federalism. Even then, the secession of Pakistan became inevitable. The question in the island is between two ancient identities evolved into contending nations through a bitter unitary legacy of colonial and post-colonial phases.
In what world history Solheim has seen a military-less nation forming federal with a rival nation having an exclusive ethnic military? Conquest, subjugation and colonisation are the other words for what Solheim and his international community are advocating, said Eezham Tamil observers.
“I have been often abused as a White Tiger by all the chauvinistic Sinhala media in Colombo […] But, those of you who read TamilNet, would also see that it is the same [accusations] there. In TamilNet’s lengthy articles it is said that it was me and personally me who was responsible for the all the wrong assessments made by Pirapaharan in the last stage of the war and that it is me who have deceived and destroyed the Tamil struggle. Both the things cannot possibly be true simultaneously,” Solheim said amidst clapping by a section of Sri Lankans in the audience.
A Norway-appointed commission has come out with a bulky report pinpointing that at what crucial stage of the war those who had steered the peace process mysteriously blundered. According to the report, it was failing the whole world – not just deceiving and destroying the Tamil struggle.
Solheim sounded rhetoric in proclaiming “multi-cultural, multi-racial and multi-religious state with equal rights for all communities in Sri Lanka.”
Just last year, a Norwegian who was opposed to multiculturalism, indiscriminately killed scores of innocent Norwegian youth, as a matter of political show according to his documents.
The Sri Lankan state has repeatedly demonstrated that to its capacity of thinking multiculturalism means structural genocide of Eezham Tamils.
Ironically both opposition to multiculturalism and use of multiculturalism – both Breivik and Rajapaksa in their own ways could exist as true phenomena ‘simultaneously’.
Why should Solheim and the ‘world’ he claims standing behind him, in their opportunistic policies about new states, trouble the poor Sri Lankan state in thrusting theories beyond its comprehension, and in the process trouble the Eezham Tamils also indefinitely, is the question.
Suresh Premachandran speaking at the meeting on Tuesday has aptly explained the on-going structural genocide, but those who pretend sleeping could never be awakened.
Verbally agreeing with the ethnic composition of the North-East or unworkability of the unitary constitution are ineffective when assurance is given to the unity of the genocidal state. That will only pave way for future excuses to do nothing by citing ‘ground realities.’ Tamil political observers said.
As an adage goes in Tamil, there is no point in attacking a person out of office. But, TamilNet chooses to put on record, whenever Solheim speaks and whatever he says at length, especially the translation of his speeches in Norwegian, since he is going to be assessed for ages in the history of Tamils.
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Translated extracts of Mr Solheim’s introduction part of the Norwegian speech:
“I have been asked on something very special. I was asked to say a few words on where the Tamil people stand now and the way ahead for the Tamil people.
“I must start by saying that this is something Tamils themselves should decide upon and no outsider could give any absolute assessment. It is the Tamil movement in Sri Lanka itself and in the exile, who should assess what should be the way ahead. What I can give is a friendly assessment on where the Tamils in Sri Lanka are standing now,
“Very often, the Tamils ask the International Community to intervene into Sri Lanka to contribute to improvements and changes in Sri Lanka. Also, it is also question of how the Tamils themselves could extend a hand to the international community so that it [the intervention] happens.
“I will be speaking as a friend of Tamils in Sri Lanka and as a friend of Sri Lanka. You will not like everything that I am going to tell. […] There is no point if I just come here and say that it is Mahinda Rajapaksa who is guilty for everything. It would not be helping the Tamils in Sri Lanka.
“Sri Lanka is a strange place. I don’t know about any another place where there is a constant desire that foreign forces should come in and contribute to find a solution to the conflict, where at the same time everyone who attempts a solution get tarnished and get constantly reviled.
This is not the recipe if you really aspire for the support from the international community.
Let me give an example from my time when I was a peace broker there. An Indian gentleman, General Nambiar, was asked by the Sri Lankan government to give advise on how the so-called High Security Zone could be handled. Nambiar is the brother of Ban ki-Moon’s number two in the UN system: with other words, a very central Indian. Nambiar composed a report. His report was immediately dismissed by Colombo. It was not directly rejected by the LTTE in an official context. […] And Nambiar left soon the island and nobody heard anything from him afterwards.
“If the Tamils in Sri Lanka or the authorities in Sri Lanka really wish international engagement they should behave in an appropriate manner with the international community.
“I can give ten thousand other examples like this. I would like to mention that everyone is aware that I have been often abused as a White Tiger by all the chauvinistic Sinhala media in Colombo. In the last stages of the war in the island there were placards in Colombo displaying three people as chief terrorists. There was the photo of Hillary Clinton, the foreign minister of the USA and the photos of David Milliband, the then British foreign minister, and myself.
“These were the three chief terrorists who had contributed to isolate Sri Lanka by the international community, according to the Sinhala extremists.
“But, those of you who read TamilNet, would also see that it is the same [accusations] there. In TamilNet’s lengthy articles it is said that it was me and personally me who was responsible for the all the wrong assessments made by Pirapaharan in the last stage of the war and that it is me who have deceived and destroyed the Tamil struggle.
“Both the things cannot possibly be true simultaneously.
“Where are the Tamils standing now?
“Tamils in Sri Lanka have undergone one of the largest national, military and violent trauma any people could have undergone.
“Tens of the thousands of Tamils, some of them LTTE soldiers, but mainly civilian Tamils were brutally killed in the last stage of the war. This cannot be covered upon. This has to be addressed.
“A national Lankan process or an international process must address this. It is up to the Sri Lankan government to create a national process, which is credible enough for the international community to accept. If that didn’t happen, there would be international pressure to clarify what had really happened.
“It is one of the reasons why a resolution was passed by a majority votes in the Human Rights Commission in Geneva with major criticism on Sri Lanka and thereby on the Rajapaksa government, despite all the attempts to avoid it.
“As far as I am aware, this is also the first time that India ever voted in favour of a such a resolution.
“Most of the Tamils would say that the resolution could have been more stronger. But, it was a major step for India to vote in favour of such a resolution. So, the Tamils have gone through an enormous trauma. The Tamils have also experienced that despite three years have passed since the end of war, most of the root causes to the conflict are yet to be addressed.
“There has been no form of self-rule in the North and East of Sri Lanka. There has been no real start for Tamils, Sinhalese and Muslims to lead a life as equal citizens in a State. These questions are unresolved. There is a broad agreement among the international community that the responsibility to resolve these questions lie with those who are in power to do that, which means Mahinda Rajapaksa.”
[In his speech in Norwegian, Mr. Solheim was particular about passing the blame on to LTTE leader V. Pirapaharan as he has been doing it in his earlier interviews and addresses after the Vanni war. The former Norwegian minister and peace envoy was also reiterating that there was a chance for a federal solution, the evidence for which he still doesn’t bring out.]
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After the questions and comments from the audience Mr Solheim spoke in English. He said he wanted to make it sure that his message was not misunderstood by the Sri Lankan embassy officials who were present at the meeting or the Tamils.
“My message is very short and is directed to both the government of Sri Lanka and the Tamil community. And my opinion here is absolutely similar of the opinion of India, of the European Union and the United States of America. […] – and of a broader western global community.
“It may not be the opinion of Iran or Pakistan or some other forces. But, it is most certainly the opinion of the influential parts of the international community in the United States and Europe.
“I will summarise in 4 points:
“There is no support for violence by either side and there is no support for taking up arms for any armed struggle in Sri Lanka.
“And there is no support for a new separate state in Sri Lanka. I understand your concerns that were brought up here with Southern Sudan and other examples. But it is a fact that there is no support for separate state in Sri Lanka.
“There is broad support for a multi-cultural, multi-racial and multi-religious state with equal rights for all communities in Sri Lanka.
“And that was taken out of your presentation from the Embassy that there is broad support for self-rule, devolution, federalism, con-federalism whatever term you want to use for some entity in North-East by lot of powers. That is also a very important part of what the international community wants to see happen in Sri Lanka.
“There is no need to come to Europe to study this. The best example as close to Sri Lanka as it has ever been is in India.
“India is a multi-cultural, multi-religious and multi-racial state. Every community in India has same legal rights whether they are Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Sikh or whatever community. But, adding to that there is a huge number of separate law-making devolution of powers to the States. Sikhs dominated State of Punjab has a lot of powers, Tamil dominated State of Tamil Nadu has a lot of powers, so is the Telugu dominated State of Andhra Pradesh. So, this is brought into the Indian federal system.
“If anyone in the 1950s and 1960s had brought forward an idea in India similar to the Sinhala Only idea in Sri Lanka, for instance a Hindi Only idea, most certainly India could have split. It is absolutely no way India could have kept this structure if Indian politicians had brought forward a Hindi Only idea or Tamil Only idea, Telugu Only or Malayalam Only or whatever. […] Some people said in Sri Lanka in 1950s that two equal languages would vouch for one State. But, one language, the demand of Sinhala Only, will be the beginning of the demand for two States. That proved to be right.
“Some people have challenged me asking me if I can hold the blame on Pirapaharan or the LTTE. Let me be direct on this. No, that is not the case. I was asked here to discuss what the Tamil community could do to move forward with the process in Sri Lanka, not about every other aspect.
“There have been killings of both sides. Many killings of people very close to me, personally. Joseph Pararajasingham came here. He was my guest. We used to meet with him. He was killed in most brutal fashion even on the day of Cross in the Church of Batticaloa most certainly by the forces of the command of the government.
“Lakshman Kadirgamar was also close to me. I met him at very minimum fifty times, may be one hundred. We had huge number of encounters. I can respect him. He was killed by the LTTE, again in the most brutal fashion. The LTTE killed Neelan Thiruchelvam, another person who came here to Norway meeting me. He is also a Tamil. And the forces under the government killed Lasantha Wickramathunge, the editor in daylight in Colombo […] I can continue listing. This, I condemn them all, everyone of them. And that is also the opinion of the broad international community.
“Of course we knew that Pirapaharan killed Rajiv Gandhi when we kept working in Sri Lanka. […] We knew how it happened, why it happened and all that. That is not a reason not to talk to Pirapaharan. That it has an enormous influence on the Tamil community to reach out to India and still you have that position. Because, the Congress Party of Indian will not take this lightly. His wife is the most influential politician in the Congress Party of India. I met her. She doesn’t take the murder as that lightly. To her it is an enormous personal issue. And to the State of India, the one and only time that a Prime Minister of India had been killed by outside force. Think of the president of the United States of America being killed by a force of Mexico. Most certainly Americans would have reacted enormously with use of power in a strong fashion.
“To resolve all these, is to start a new, not to bring up all the mistakes that have been done in the past, but to look into the future. And if you want advice, it is what I was told about: how to reach out to the international community […] is to embark upon and abide by the international community.
“What Tamils have to do – Sinhala also – is to whenever you call for international engagement – you ask us to be engaged, but the very few people who have an engagement, do they get any support for that? No. They are getting the blame all the time.
“Frankly, there are two international politicians who have taken an interest in Sri Lanka from the West over the last three years. Bob Blake, the American Deputy Secretary of State and myself. We only get blame for this. We manage. I am not afraid of it. I am used to this politics. Politicians all over Europe, the United States everybody else would ask, should I spend time with Sri Lankan affairs? Look what is happening with those people.
“I have met most Sri Lankans and their delegations than any other minister of any other nation in the world in the last three years. I met the Tamil Global Forum just three days before I was kicked out as a minister. Sinhala chauvinist media said in Sri Lanka that the reason why I was kicked out was because I met the Global Tamil Forum. I will tell you. If you do not want United States or India or the European Union to be engaged please continue to act […] If you do want to get the international community engaged with the Tamil community and with Sri Lanka, you must reach out for dialogue […]
“I agree with Chelliah that P-TOMS was a missed opportunity of the peace process and the blame for that is basically with the government. […]
“I do agree with Suresh that [unitary constitution has problems]. And I think that is the opinion of the international community and there is wide support for federal solution. India has no unitary constitution. India has a federal constitution. So is Switzerland, Germany, Spain, Malaysia, Indonesia and many other nations that have a federal constitution.
“I also agree that any attempt to change the ethnic pattern of the northeast should not get any support from the international community and that is the recipe for disaster and more problems. We should definitely condemn.”