Trapped in the Claws of the Tigers in Norway
Harald Eraker -Ny Tid,
Outside his home in Oslo, he was threatened by a pistol late one
The message was crystal clear: “If you don’t stop criticizing the Tamil
Tigers, your days are over.” While Norway negotiates in Sri Lanka, the
Tamil Tigers are using Norway as a power base to collect the«revolution
The Tamil Tigers (LTTE) and the Government of Sri Lanka will meet in
Geneva next week for peace talks. Norway’s Minister of Development
Cooperation Erik Solheim has attempted over the last few years to end
conflict, which has led to the loss of over 60,000 lives. At the same
in Oslo, Rajasingam Sivarajah sits in fear of a death sentence from the
reputed leader of the Tamil Tigers: Velupillai Prabhakaran.
Interpol has a warrant out for the LTTE-leader for his connection to
killing of India’s Rajiv Gandhi. Over the last few months, the violence
Sri Lanka has escalated. The Tamil Tigers from northern Sri Lanka are
listed as a terror-organization in a whole series of countries,
the USA, UK, India and Australia. Last year the EU imposed travel
restrictions against the Tiger leaders.
Norway has not listed the Tamil Tigers as terrorists. There is a
widespread opinion that Norway is a sanctuary for the guerilla group.
Even Amnesty International’s campaigns suggest Norway in this context.
2002 The AI Head Office launched a campaign against the use of child
soldiers by the Tamil Tigers. The members were asked to send a letter
protest to three organizations: the Tamil Coordinating Committee in
France, World Tamil Movement in Canada, and the Tamil Coordination
Committee, with a post-address in Oslo.
Likewise Amnesty targeted the Tamil Coordination Committee of Oslo in a
campaign to release a hostage held captive by the Tamil Tigers in 2002.
“I have given up. Now nothing matters anymore. It is only a question of
time before they decide to kill me,” says Sivarajah.
He is among the few Tamils in Norway who dares to criticize the Tamil
Tigers in the open. Sivarajah is a part of the Liberal Democratic
a human rights organization working across religious and political
divisions among the Tamils.
Late one April night last year he received a final warning from the
reputed guerilla organization. He had just parked his car outside his
apartment building in the Furuset suburb. When crossing Maria Dehli’s
Road, a man suddenly approached him and pointed a pistol to his side.
“I was dead scared that he would shoot me. While he was pointing his
to me, he threatened me to stop all criticism of the Tamil Tigers. This
the second and last warning,” he said, before he conveyed that he was
awaiting further orders from
“annai.” “Annai,” the Tamil word for “brother,” is used as a name to
describe Prabhakaran, says Sivarajah.
Sivarajah’s first impulse was to try to escape the situation. This he
aside quite soon upon seeing another man hiding in the bushes further
“Before they disappeared, the man with the gun warned me as to what
happen if I did not listen to him--- the same thing that happened to
Sathiyarajan Subramaniyam,” says Sivarajah.
Subramaniyam escaped to Norway in 1990. After criticizing the tigers,
Subramaniyam’s life was also threatened. During a visit to Tamil Nadu
India in 1999, he was killed in a traffic accident.
“There are many ways to kill a person,” says Sivarajah, showing a
of the late Subramaniyam.
Everybody is scared
Despite Erik Solheim and Norway’s success in leading parties to agree
a ceasefire in February 2002, the violence has increased on both sides.
According to the ceasefire monitors led by Norway, the Tamil Tigers
are responsible for over 90 percent of the reported violations of the
cease fire agreement. These violations include vast numbers of both the
politically motivated killings of Tamil dissidents, as well as the
kidnappings of children forced to become soldiers for the guerrilla
Sivarajan’s account of his death threat reflects what many Tamils
in Norway experience, for the Tamil Tigers’ iron grip on their own in
Lanka extends also to Norway. Ny Tid has over a period of time had
with several “Norwegian” Tamils about the imminent daily threat that
Contrary to Sivarajah, no one else dare step out in public.
“We have lots of problems with the Tamil Tigers here in Norway. But
write my name in Ny Tid, that I don’t dare,” says a Tamil woman.
“If I publicly tell about this, my family in Sri Lanka will get
with the Tamil Tigers,” says another Tamil living in Norway.
“All of us are scared,” says a third person. ”They are settled in
different parts of the country. They share a common fear of what would
happen if they speak out.”
Money for “The Final War”
The most common problem is the pressure to pay “revolution tax” to the
Tamil Tigers. Lately the LITTE people in Norway have toured the country
collecting money for what they describe as “The Final War” against the
government of Sri Lanka. Earlier they would collect money by more or
forcing people to accept a monthly auto-draft of at 500 Norwegian
(approximately $74 USD). According to a source who wishes to remain
anonymous, the Tigers now demand minimum single installments of 20, 000
Crowns and promise to reimburse people once the Tamils receive their
However Sivarajah refuses to pay the Tamil Tigers.
“But I know people who lately have paid single amounts of 25 000 to 50
Crown,” says Sivarajah.
Another Tamil mentioned families who have paid sums of several hundred
thousand Crowns; to come up with these payments, they have gone to the
bank and re-financed their house-loan.
“One of my acquaintances, a social client, paid 300 Crowns each month
Tamil Tigers. When I asked him why he didn’t instead buy winter clothes
for his children, he was unable to answer. His tears just started
down his face,” tells Sivarajah.
Nobody hides the fact that some pay their “revolution tax” to the
terror-labeled Tamil Tigers with enthusiasm and out of free will. But
according to one source Ny Tid spoke with, most people are forced to
Another source tells that no one wants to talk about this out of fear
the Tamil Tigers, and alleges that half of the Tamils living in Norway
involuntarily. One claims that the Tamil Tigers in only one day
one million Crowns.
“Most of us only want to avoid trouble when we go to Sri Lanka to visit
family and friends,” states yet another.
Fear of Reprisals
According to the Tamils who have contacted Ny Tid, those who have paid
“revolution tax” receive an ID-card by the Tamil Tigers as a receipt.
ID-card has one letter followed by a four-digit pin-code. Tamils living
Norway receive the letter N before the pin-code.
Upon showing this card during travels back to Sri Lanka to visit
and friends in LTTE-controlled areas, they avoid “trouble.” If they
have the card, they risk that the Tamil Tigers will not let them in, Ny
Tid is told.
“When they came to me to demand money, I refused to pay. Then they said
that the Tamil Tigers would know that I had not paid in case I were to
to Sri Lanka,” says one of the Norwegian Tamils.
Many tell that they pay out of fear for reprisals by the Tamil Tigers
against family members still living in Sri Lanka.
Sivarajah can testify that the Tamil Tigers are closely following what
happening in Norway. In December last year he distributed a letter from
the organization Liberal Democratic Tamils to all members of the
parliament, Stortinget. In this letter the representatives were asked
help to release a Tamil kid-napped by the Tamil Tigers.
– Even though I did not sign the letter, my parents in Sri Lanka were
approached by the Tamil Tigers the same evening. They were told to make
stop my criticism of the LTTE,” tells Sivarajah.
Many also alleged to Ny Tid that people in the Tamil community don’t
but to show up on events organized by the Tamil Tigers in Norway.
Such an event is the annual celebration of the annual celebration of
"Heroes’ Day". It takes place November 27, on the birthday of the
of the Tamil Tigers, Prabhakaran.
Last year the celebration took place at the Exporama convention centre
Hellerudsletta outside Oslo. From the start Ny Tid was invited attend
celebration by one who supports the Tamil Tigers, “so that you can
experience the vast support of the Tamil Tigers.
At the last moment a counter-order came from the Tamil Yogarajah
Balasingam, Labor Party representative of the Oslo City Council. This
now a closed function, and Ny Tid was not welcome after all.
Information from Tamils in Norway and pictures from the event, however
shows what took place at Exporama, Hellerudsletta. This was a mere
to the independence struggle of the Tamil Tigers. And a homage to the
Tamil Tiger leader, Prabhakaran.
– Those who support Prabhakaran, call him the «Sun God». But he is a
dictator, says one of the Tamils.
The five hour long function was centered around coffins, tombstones and
pictures of the LTTE-martyrs. From posters, drama and dance
the history and aspiration of the Tamil Tigers were highlighted on the
51st birthday of the «Sun God».
– Only those who have laid down their lives for the Tamil Tigers are
commemorated during this function. I am a Tamil myself, and will never
accept to be treated as a second-class citizen in Sri Lanka. But when
Police in Norway cannot help us against the threats of the Tamil Tigers
this country, how then can Norway help the Tamils in Sri Lanka,
Now he is only expecting the Tamil Tigers to come knocking on his door.
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Published: Sun Feb 19 20:27:56 EST 2006