Feature Article

Norway funds Sri Lanka ministry

[TamilNet, Sunday, 04 December 2011, 10:52 GMT]
The Norwegian embassy in Colombo has contributed 18.5 million Rupees to Sri Lanka’s Child Development and Women’s Affairs ministry to improve mobility of Women Development Officers and to display billboards in prominent places, a press release from the Norwegian embassy in Colombo said on Friday. Norway at times had to “buy peace” through aid, observed Norway’s assessment report of the failed peace process released last month, cautioning “Aid may play a supportive role in peace process, but cannot short-circuit complex political processes.” Aid cannot be a substitute for politics, the report further said. But the Norwegian government is now interested in buying inroads into ‘Victor’s Sri Lanka’, forgetting its responsibilities to the victims of its peace process, diaspora political observers said.

According to Norwegian embassy press release, the money will be used to purchase 120 motorbikes for the Women Development Officers, whose “work up till now has been restricted due to hardships in transportation.”

Whatever foreign aid given to Sri Lankan state in any of the field of development, being invariably used directly and indirectly in subordinating the Tamil nation to the SL military, civil service, businesses and clergy, is what practically experienced in the island.

This is why Eezham Tamils oppose any foreign aid going to Sri Lanka without political solution to the national question as such aids only contribute further to the ongoing structural genocide, Tamil political observers in the diaspora said.

“Norway’s aid should directly reach the women and children victimized by its failed peace process, in order to politically empower them to come out of the structural genocide. This is the ‘lesson’ Norway should learn and is the least compensation Norway could do, rather than placing the victims at the ‘generosity’ of their adversaries who have never shown any ‘generosity’ in their entire history.”

“Unfortunately Norway is entertaining wrong shades of elements in the island and in the diaspora, as politicians who failed but continue to steer aid coupling it with foreign policy in Norway are inherently incapable in their political outlook to engage with the right shades,” the political observers further said.

* * *

During the peace process, Norway’s aid amounted to 2500 million NOK, of which only 100 million was spent on facilitating the peace process and the bulk went to Sri Lankan state, besides foundations of Sinhala individuals like Milinda Moragoda getting single largest aid, amounting to 60 million NOK, Norway’s peace process report pointed out.

Speaking at the report releasing function and answering questions, Dr. Milinda Moragoda said that the audience might not believe, but there was a lot of improvement in ‘reconciliation’ in the island. He knows better as he comes from the island and is working on it, he claimed.

On the contrary, the diaspora could righteously believe only what its kith and kin in the island feel about the situation, and not what Milinda Moragoda says.

Speaking earlier, Mr. Erik Solheim, the former peace facilitator of Norway and currently the minister for international development, simultaneously handling Sri Lanka for the foreign ministry too, said that he and Milinda Moragoda were responsible for drafting the provisions of the failed peace communiqué in 2002.

Many Eezham Tamils today believe that the provisions without contingency plans, inherent in their aim to blunt the national cause of Eezham Tamils and to trap them, contributed to the genocidal end. Some of the concerns are endorsed by Norway’s assessment report too.

* * *

After the war, last year alone, as a part of its 170 million NOK aid, Norway gave a substantial amount to a Sinhala NGO connected to the chauvinistic SL political party Jatika Hela Urumaya (JHU) to work in the Tamil country, especially in Vanni.

Norwegian agencies were long connected to this NGO and last year they wanted the diaspora Tamils in Norway to work in collaboration with this NGO. There were veiled intimidations that reluctance to comply would result in no funds at all to Tamil groups that wanted direct funding.

Speaking at the South Asia Policy Research Institute in Colombo two weeks ago, the former SL president Chandrika Kumaratunga said that in her time the JHU and other extremists had tried to convince her that the solution to the ethnic question was to settle Sinhalese on the borders of Jaffna.

The JHU had planted Buddha statues in several 100 per cent Tamil and Muslim villages in the East and burned 100 odd churches during her time, she said, adding that she had to arrest 60 odd members of the JHU.

However, the Norwegian Minister for International Development, Mr. Erik Solheim, thinks in a different way.

Speaking last month at the report release function, he said: “I am very clear, that we should have done more to reach out to, that is the Buddhist clergy in Sri Lanka, the Mahanayakes in Kandy and others. They were important spiritual leaders in Sri Lanka.”

“We were clearly advised by Chandrika Kumaratunga and others to not to spend too much time on the Buddhist clergy. It is not our idea that we should not do it. We wanted to do it. But, we were told not to do [by Chandrika saying] – stick to yourself, don't intervene in this. Leave that to us. But, still I think with the hindsight today we should have done more to reach out to the Buddhist clergy, because their role on this Sinhalese side was so important,” Solheim said.

That explains what is in the mind of Norway’s ‘development’ pundits – appeasement for their inroads at the further cost of the victims of their failure.

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