Norwegian delegation meets Batticaloa politicians

[TamilNet, Saturday, 13 March 1999, 15:26 GMT]
The Norwegian Parliamentary delegation that is currently on an official visit to Sri Lanka held discussions with government officials and politicians in Batticaloa today about the ethnic conflict and conditions in the district. The delegation was led by Kirsti Kolle Grøndahl, the President of the Norwegian Parliament.

Mr.Joseph Pararajasingham MP, while addressing the Norwegian delegation this morning said that the Tamil people are treated as suspects and captives and are subjected to discrimination.

grondahl.jpgHe said that the cancellation by the SLA of the Norwegian funded development project in those areas of Batticaloa which are not under its control is unacceptable.

The MP urged the Norwegians not to deport Sri Lankan Tamils in Norway who have been refused asylum in view of the security threats they face in the island. Batticaloa Mayor Cheliyan Perinpanayagam in his address said that the Tamils are suffering in the prison that is Sri Lanka.

"The only wealth we have accumulated are missing persons, refugees and women who have lost their husbands and children."

Alisahir Moulana MP (Batticaloa) urged that the government should negotiate with the Liberation Tigers.

Ms.Grøndahl spoke to journalists after the meeting.

Responding to a question about the Norwegian government's stand on the SLA's ban on implementing the 500 million rupee DERBA project in the hinterlands of the distrcit that are not under the army's control she said that money for development work in Batticaloa is granted under a 20 year agreement between the Norwegian and Sri Lankan government.

Norway can only grant financial aid and not determine where the monies should be spent by the Sri Lankan government (SLG); it for the SLG to decide where the funds should be spent Ms.Kelle said.

She claimed that the Sri Lanka is a friendly country and that the delegation was happy with the development programs in Sri Lanka funded by Norway.

Journalists asked her whether the Norwegian government would act as a mediator to settle the Sri Lankan conflict.

Ms. Grøndahl responded that the Norwegian government is always prepared to assist in peace negotiations if the government and the Liberation Tigers are agreeable to it.

She said that her government has decided to send back some Tamil asylum seekers in Norway. The case of each asylum seeker would be studied and it would be then determined whether a person could be sent back to Sri Lanka or not.

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