2nd lead (adds correction)

Murder convict said organizer of Sri Lanka conference in Oslo

[TamilNet, Friday, 20 August 2004, 05:20 GMT]
A man convicted of murder is the joint organiser of a conference on Sri Lanka in Oslo, the Norwegian multicultural newspaper Utrop said in its online edition Friday. The conference, which begins Friday, brings together Sinhala nationalist hardliners and Sinhala Buddhist extremists from around the world. The Norwegian, the joint organizer of the Sinhala nationalist conference, was convicted for murdering an immigrant restaurant owner in Oslo and sentenced to preventive detention for ten years in 1997, according to Utrop.

The murder-convicted Norwegian man, 40, runs an IT company and website from a Salvation Army's apartment in Oslo, which is a preventive detention facility.

The Oslo conference was jointly organized by the above company and the euphemistically named ‘World Alliance for Peace in Sri Lanka’ (WAPS), an umbrella group of expatriate Sinhala nationalist and extremist organizations.

Mr. Tor Bach, a Norwegian journalist broke the story in Utrop's online edition Friday.

A highlight of the conference is a talk on “Norway and LTTE Terrorism” by Norwegian R-Senter, the joint-organisor, according to the conference website, senter.no. It would expose “Norway's controversial role” in the Sri Lanka conflict and “Oslo's liberal asylum policies towards known terrorists”. Alleged secret telephone conversations between Oslo's representatives and LTTE leaders will be displayed in the conference, according to the website.

Another webpage run by the murder convict is full of conspiracy theories and accusations against Norway. The webpage also charges that tens of thousands of immigrants from Somalia, Iraq, Afganistan, Sudan and other countries with terrorist links have got asylum in Norway and there are many known war criminals among the asylum seekers in Norway. This is the reason for crime and narcotic-trafficking in Norway, accuses the webpage.

“The link between a person in preventive custody and Sinhala extremists is intriguing”, a Norwegian academic familiar with the developments told TamilNet.

Preventive detention according to the Norwegian law is a special sanction that can be applied when a person has committed a serious crime and there is a risk of him or her re-offending. Convicted people who are declared mentally ill are often sentenced to preventive detention on the advice of expert psychiatric opinion.

Utrop questioned the participation of Norwegian Foreign Ministry in the conference.

Ms. Lisa Golden, a Norwegian Foreign Ministry official is participating in the conference. Ms. Golden is on the Sri Lanka peace team of the Norwegian Foreign Ministry and formerly worked with the US state Department and USAID.

Although the conference is called ‘Roadmap for Peace in Sri Lanka’, the topics it would address do not reflect the theme. The conference would to appeal the Norwegians and the international community to "fight against LTTE terrorism" and persuade Norway not to act as a facilitator in solving the conflict in Sri Lanka.

Commenting to the Norwegian national daily, Dagsavisen, Dr. Jehan Perera of the National Peace Council in Colombo Thursday characterized WAPS and its leader Mr. Ranjith Soysa as “extreme elements” and told Dagsavisen that three of the five speakers were from the same background. “These are extremists who strongly oppose the peace process and are extremely critical of the Tamil struggle,” Perera told Dagsavisen.

Dr. Øvind Fuglerud, a Norwegian academic who specializes on Sri Lanka’s ethnic conflict said the conference was being organised by "the-bad-ones". He told Klassekampen, another Norwegian newspaper, Monday that the conference is to be interpreted as an attempt to attack Norwegian facilitation in Sri Lanka’s peace process.

 

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