Former Oslo envoy rubbishes Rajapaksa's LTTE funding charge
A former Norwegian peace envoy to Sri Lanka on Monday rubbished President Mahinda Rajapaksa's charge that he funded the LTTE during the island's deadly civil war even as he acknowledged that "economic resources" were provided to Tamil Tigers with the government's full knowledge.
Colombo: A former Norwegian peace envoy to Sri Lanka on Monday rubbished President Mahinda Rajapaksa's charge that he funded the LTTE during the island's deadly civil war even as he acknowledged that "economic resources" were provided to Tamil Tigers with the government's full knowledge.
Erik Solheim, a Norwegian diplomat who for nearly a decade headed international efforts to broker a peace deal, issued a statement from Paris, saying "Norway as the third, facilitating party to the Sri Lankan peace process financed neither the LTTE in general nor its military operations in particular."
President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Saturday accused the former Norwegian peace envoy of "giving money" to the Tamil Tigers who waged a 37-year insurgency for a separate homeland before being crushed in 2009.
He demanded that the Norwegian government must probe the funding of the LTTE during their peace facilitation in the island between 2000 and 2008.
The accusations have drawn strong rebuttal from the envoy who said, "Norway made economic resources available to the LTTE peace secretariat in order to assist them in engaging more fully with the ongoing peace process."
"This included a radio transmitter. This, moreover, was done with the full knowledge of the Government of Sri Lanka under different leaders, including during the period when Mahinda Rajapaksa was prime minister," he said.
As with all our peace efforts in Sri Lanka, Solheim said, transparency with respect to the government in Colombo was total.
The former envoy said that then Prime Minister Rajapaksa was always "fully supportive of peace aims and both encouraged Norway to continue and asked us to keep him informed of developments."
"We were and are grateful for that fruitful cooperation," he said, adding that he had carried a number of political requests on Rajapaksa's behalf to LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran.
"All these messages were duly communicated on to the LTTE leadership, and the killings ceased for a period. At the time the president also expressed his gratitude for this both to Norway and to myself personally," Solheim said.
Solheim also responded to Rajapaksa's charge that he was eagerly waiting to give evidence against Sri Lanka at the enquiry initiated by the UN Human Rights Council.
"Consider it the duty of everyone with relevant information - Sri Lankans and foreigners alike - to provide the best possible knowledge ? and in full honesty ? regarding war crimes allegedly committed by both the LTTE and the Government of Sri Lanka," the former envoy said.
"The United Nations can only function as the leading global organisation if we all assist in implementing important decisions taken both by the Secretary General and the UN's subsidiary bodies," he further added.
A government census limited to the former northern battle zones last year said that over 8,000 people were killed while another 6,350 had gone missing during the conflict.