The Lanka Academic

 
FEBRUARY 19, 2006 EST, USA
 
QUAERE VERUM
 
VOL. 6, NO. 319

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Trapped in the Claws of the Tigers in Norway
Harald Eraker -Ny Tid, February 18. Outside his home in Oslo, he was threatened by a pistol late one evening. 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 tax».

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 the conflict, which has led to the loss of over 60,000 lives. At the same time 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 the killing of India’s Rajiv Gandhi. Over the last few months, the violence in Sri Lanka has escalated. The Tamil Tigers from northern Sri Lanka are listed as a terror-organization in a whole series of countries, including 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. In 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 of 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 Tamils, 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 gun to me, he threatened me to stop all criticism of the Tamil Tigers. This is the second and last warning,” he said, before he conveyed that he was only 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 put aside quite soon upon seeing another man hiding in the bushes further down the road. “Before they disappeared, the man with the gun warned me as to what would 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 in India in 1999, he was killed in a traffic accident. “There are many ways to kill a person,” says Sivarajah, showing a picture of the late Subramaniyam.

Everybody is scared

Despite Erik Solheim and Norway’s success in leading parties to agree upon a ceasefire in February 2002, the violence has increased on both sides. According to the ceasefire monitors led by Norway, the Tamil Tigers alone 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 organization. Sivarajan’s account of his death threat reflects what many Tamils living in Norway experience, for the Tamil Tigers’ iron grip on their own in Sri Lanka extends also to Norway. Ny Tid has over a period of time had contact with several “Norwegian” Tamils about the imminent daily threat that they feel. Contrary to Sivarajah, no one else dare step out in public. “We have lots of problems with the Tamil Tigers here in Norway. But don’t 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 problems 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 less forcing people to accept a monthly auto-draft of at 500 Norwegian Crowns (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 own state.

However Sivarajah refuses to pay the Tamil Tigers. “But I know people who lately have paid single amounts of 25 000 to 50 000 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 the 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 running 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 pay. Another source tells that no one wants to talk about this out of fear for the Tamil Tigers, and alleges that half of the Tamils living in Norway pay involuntarily. One claims that the Tamil Tigers in only one day collected 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. The ID-card has one letter followed by a four-digit pin-code. Tamils living in Norway receive the letter N before the pin-code. Upon showing this card during travels back to Sri Lanka to visit relatives and friends in LTTE-controlled areas, they avoid “trouble.” If they don’t 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 go 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 is 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 to 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 me stop my criticism of the LTTE,” tells Sivarajah.

Heroes’ Day

Many also alleged to Ny Tid that people in the Tamil community don’t dare 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 the "Heroes’ Day". It takes place November 27, on the birthday of the leader of the Tamil Tigers, Prabhakaran. Last year the celebration took place at the Exporama convention centre at Hellerudsletta outside Oslo. From the start Ny Tid was invited attend the 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 was 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 homage 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 performances, 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 the Police in Norway cannot help us against the threats of the Tamil Tigers in this country, how then can Norway help the Tamils in Sri Lanka, Sivarajah asks? Now he is only expecting the Tamil Tigers to come knocking on his door.

Discuss this story
Published: Sun Feb 19 20:27:56 EST 2006


Sri Lankan team suggests changes to ceasefire pact
gulf news, 02/20/2006 . Colombo: The government delegation is set to suggest amendments to the Cease Fire Agreement (CFA) at the renewed peace negotiations with Tamil rebels of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) commencing on Wednesday.

The amendments are reported to have been drafted by a legal team headed by President's Counsel H.L. de Silva in consultation with the security forces, the Sunday Leader newspaper reported.

The amendments are being proposed keeping with a pledge by President Mahinda Rajapakse during the presidential election campaign that the Cease-Fire Agreement (CFA) signed in 2002 with the LTTE would be reviewed and strengthened. More... Discuss this story
Published: Sun Feb 19 20:11:36 EST 2006 Back to the top


Sri Lanka's peace delegates head out for crucial talks with Tamil rebels
Shimali Senanayake in Colombo, February 19th, 2006, 9:30 pm. The government's main negotiating team was set to leave for the Swiss capital on Monday, geared for some hard bargaining with the Tamil Tiger rebels in the first meeting between the two sides in nearly three years.

"We are going with an open mind," said Nivard Cabraal, senior advisor to the government's negotiating team.

"We are prepared to discuss the cease-fire in broad terms in order to ensure that it becomes meaningful to all parties," he said, ahead of boarding a flight to Geneva for talks slated to open on Wednesday.

The Tigers say talks must be limited to implementation of the cease-fire.

The government delegation has been preparing for weeks to face a hardened Tiger team led by its chief negotiator Anton Balasingham.

They also focused attention on comparative studies of peace processes in Sudan, Northern Ireland, Ache, South Africa and Palestine, in addition to expert advice from the United States on negotiation skills.

Among the issues anticipated at the talks are disarming armed groups, specifically the contentious Karuna issue, access to the northern and eastern seas, movement of Tiger cadre and the vacation of public building connected to the high security zones.

The killings of five students along the eastern Trincomalee coast and the alleged abduction of 10 members of the Tamil Rehabilitation Organization or TRO, are expected to overshadow the talks. Seven TRO members still remain missing.

However, the parties swapped prisoners over the weekend, in moves aimed at building confidence between the government and the rebels.

The two-day sessions takes place amid fears that the island had slid dangerously close to resuming civil war following a spate of killings that had killed scores.

Rohitha Bogollagama, minister of enterprise and investment has already touched down in Geneva.

The rest of the main delegation, advisors and support team are scheduled to leave early Monday.

On arrival in Geneva, they will be whisked away to Chateau de Bosse, a castle just outside the Swiss capital, where the negotiations are slated to take place away from the media eye.

The Tigers left Colombo on Friday and have a packed program until Feb. 28 when they leave for the Norwegian capital Oslo.

"We don't want to predict anything," S. Pulidevan, head of the LTTE peace secretariat said, just before leaving Colombo. "Our objective is to create a conducive atmosphere where people can live without fear and intimidation."

A political analyst on Sunday waned that there was likely to be a lot of tough talk.

"There will be positional bargaining," said Kumar Rupasinghe, head of Foundation for Co-Existence, an independent think tank. "Unless both sides are flexible, there is a danger of talks breaking down." Discuss this story
Published: Sun Feb 19 10:54:32 EST 2006 Back to the top


Tories to follow through on the pledge to ban LTTE in Canada - Stockwell Day
Star Pheonix, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Friday February 17, 2006. OTTAWA -- Canada's new Public Safety minister opened the door on Thursday to creating an American-style armed border patrol to stop "bad guys" from entering the country... Back to the top

Lanka to tax Hollywood and Bollywood movies
PTI, Feb 20. Colombo, Feb 20 (PTI) Sri Lanka is planning a controversial tax on imported films -- both from Hollywood and the hugely popular Bollywood -- as well as TV programmes with foreign content, in a bid to fund the development of the island's own industry in dire straits, officials said... Back to the top

Peace talks in Geneva to be made transparent
gulf news, February 18. Colombo: Sri Lanka's President Mahinda Rajapakse wants to make transparent the talks with Tamil rebels in Geneva this week... Back to the top

Sri Lanka government, rebels, hope to salvage ceasefire at first peace talks in three years
Associated Press, Sun February 19, 2006 04:57 EST . ARTHUR MAX - Associated Press Writer - ``The most likely outcome in Geneva is not going to be war or peace, but another in-between option,'' said Bart Klem, the Dutch co-author of a World Bank-funded report released last month, ``Aid, Conflict and Peacebuilding in Sri Lanka - ... Back to the top

ACT Dateline: Sri Lanka -Jaffna peninsula a symbol of the ravages ...
reliefweb.int, Date: 17 Feb 2006. Jaffna, Sri Lanka, February 17, 2006 - Just over a year ago, the tsunami killed some 40,000 people in Sri Lanka-a devastating blow to this island nation, and one that exposed the fragility of an uneasy and tenuous cease-fire agreement brokered four years ago... Back to the top

TULF calls for revision of ceasefire pact
Gulf News, February 19. LEADER of the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) V Anandasangaree has urged the government and the LTTE to revise the Ceasefire Agreement (CFA) on the basis that the LTTE would not engage in any form of violence against civilians or security forces... Back to the top

Mahinda wants more Tamil parties to join peace process
gulf-times.com, 19 February, 2006. on Friday, said that despite the LTTE being one stake holder in the peace process there should also be room for other movements and parties representing the aspirations of the Tamil speaking people... Back to the top

In Sri Lanka, caste system, prejudices, slowly fading
chron.com, Feb. 18, 2006, 9:43PM. COLOMBO, SRI LANKA - Every Sunday, newspapers here are filled with classified ads for marriage partners... Back to the top

Switzerland taking deep interest in Sri Lanka
webindia123.com, February 19. Switzerland, which hosts this week talks between Colombo and Tamil Tiger guerrillas, is one of the world's oldest democracies and has been taking a deep interest in Sri Lanka's ethnic conflict for years... Back to the top

Navy recovers anti-personnel mines, detonators in northwestern Sri Lanka , military says
Associated Press, Sun February 19, 2006 02:19 EST . - - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) The navy recovered three anti-personnel mines and detonators hidden in northwestern Sri Lanka - on Sunday, a military spokesman said... Back to the top

SB: No solution under unitary Lanka
BBC, February 18. Sri Lanka would not be able to find a solution to the national question if the authorities insist on a unitary Sri Lanka, former minister SB Dissanayake said... Back to the top

Tamil Tiger rebels release Sri Lankan policeman ahead of Geneva peace talks
Associated Press, Sat February 18, 2006 00:57 EST . COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) _ Tamil Tiger rebels on Saturday freed a Sri Lankan policeman held for more than five months in what they described as a goodwill gesture ahead of Geneva peace talks... Back to the top

Young Sri Lankan filmmakers take lead on peace
webindia123.com, February 15. Young filmmakers in Sri Lanka are making a conscious effort to highlight issues such as peace and post-tsunami recovery through their films, hoping to target opinion makers and push the stalled peace process... Back to the top

Tamil Forum for Peace to demonstrate in London tomorrow, Calls for Peace with democracy and justice
Domnique De Melo in Colombo, SLT 2.30 P.M Saturday 18 February 2006. Tamil Forum for Peace an organization consisting of the Tamil United Liberation Front , Tamil Democratic Congress, Tamil Women’s League, Sri Lanka Muslim Information and the Centre for Democracy and Justice and the Sri Lanka Democratic Forum will hold a protest in London at the Trafalgar Square tomorrow (Sunday) , between 12 noon to 3 p... Back to the top

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