We've lost a friend, says Norway

[TamilNet, Saturday, 16 December 2006, 03:01 GMT]
Norwegian special envoy for the peace process in Sri Lanka Jon Hansen-Bauer praised late Anton Balasingam for his invaluable contribution to the peace efforts, and said Norway will miss a much valued friend. Speaking at a memorial meeting in Oslo arranged at the Tamil Resource and Consultation Centre in Oslo Friday, the Norwegian Special Envoy said that it is through Mr. Balasingham he learned much about the plight of the Tamils in Sri Lanka.

Jon Hanssen-Bauer lighting the memorial flame in Oslo

Mr. Hanssen-Bauer represented the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs at the meeting where Tamils in Oslo paid their homage to Balasingham whom they became familiar through his many visits to Norway. Mr. Bauer said that Balasingham's personality and practical approach for a common understanding at the negotiation table and the peace process as a whole was very helpful for Norwegian facilitators.

[Norsk] Norwegian Special Peace Envoy
Jon Hanssen-Bauer

"He has many friends, and I have not met a person, both among Tamils and Singhalese, who did not respect him for his steadfastness."

The Norwegian Special Envoy also stated that during his visit soon after he was appointed as the special envoy, he had the opportunity to listen to Balasingham`s insights as a theoretician, and noted his vast knowledge in the peace processes in central European history.

"Anton Balasingham was a theoretician. I had great pleasure discussing with him the key thinkers in Europe and relate their philosophy and approach to the peace process in Sri Lanka," Baur said.

"He could draw the lines back to 1970's, 80's and to the first talks in Thimpu, to the five rounds of talks that did not work, and tell us the focus needed in the sixth and the new rounds of talks. He was not only a experienced man; he was also a negotiation practitioner.

"With the demise of Mr. Balasingham, the LTTE has lost its Chief negotiator; the Tamil people have lost one of their most important spokesman; an unbeatable power standing for the Tamil people, forcefully articulating their rights.

"And, Norway will miss a trusted friend and a central wall in the building of "Peace" constructed painstakingly block-by-block, has fallen," Baur said.

Many Tamils from different organisations read poetry and spoke on the respect they had for man who, they said, steadfastly represented Tamils interest, and carried Tamils trust in all peace processes.

Chief physician Dr. Per Fauchald, from the Government general hospital in Oslo, who performed the kidney transplantation to Mr. Balasingham in 2000, and who had later become a family friend was also among the speakers.

[English] Chief physician Dr. Per Fauchald,
from the Government general hospital in Oslo

"I first met him seven years ago in his residence in London. Over the years I got to know him as a very kind and soft spoken man. He was an ideal patient and had unbelievable patience. He almost never complained. He always asked the right questions and quickly drew the logical and right conclusions.

"It was of course, a part of his highly advanced analytical mind which made him a perfect negotiator for the Tamil people. Personally I remember him as man with great kindness, a man on whom you instantly post confidence, and a man who impressed you with his knowledge, his integrity, intelligence and also his sense of humor," Dr Fauchald said.

Sarvendra Tharmalingam, a PhD fellow at the University of Oslo and who was one of the Tamil activists who stood close to Balasingham during the kidney transplant in Oslo, shared his past organisational and theoretical experiences with Anton Balasingham, whom the LTTE leader Pirapaharan has honoured as the 'Voice of the Nation.'

[English] Ivar Christiansen,
the deputy leader for the Oslo labour party

The deputy leader for the Oslo labour party Mr. Ivar Christiansen was also among the speakers.

"Tamils trusted Balasingham with their destiny in the peace process. But due to the hard core sinhalese the peace deal failed and only a shakey ceasefire continues. Sri Lanka's President Kumaratunge and her successor Rajapakse rejected the concept of a Tamil homeland and self-determination.

"Balasingham had the full confidence of Pirabakaran. Although he lived in London with his wife for many years, he was continually in contact with the homeland. Unfortunately he died before he could experience peace in Sri Lanka," Christiansen said.

Yogarajah Balasingham, the Municipality Council member elected on ruling Labour Party's ticket, also spoke at the event.

The participants paid their last respect with flowers, and wrote condolence messages at the end of the event.



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