Feature Article
2ND LEAD (Adds Joint Communiqué)

Key Tamil organisations boycott Colombo's dialogue meet in Norway

[TamilNet, Thursday, 05 May 2016, 11:35 GMT]
The mainstream political and development related diaspora organisations of Eezham Tamils in Norway boycotted a so-called “high level” dialogue meeting organised by two NGOs funded by Norway on Wednesday. The Foreign Ministry of Norway has been advocating behind the scene to lock the Tamil organisations into the ‘dialogue’ meeting with the Netherland-based NGO operative Ram Manikkalingam, who is a close associate of former SL President Chandrika Kumaratunga Bandaranaike (CBK) and is an official member of SL President Maithiripala Sirisena's “Office for National Unity and Reconciliation”. At least 8 of the 12 invited organisations either boycotted or abstained from attending the meeting on Wednesday. Five of the boycotting organisations came out with a joint communiqué clarifying their position.

“Against the larger backdrop of world realities today we reject the narrow agent-State development approach harping on ‘Sri Lanka’, which is pivotal only in globally proving the paradigm of development through genocide. Narrowness lies not in the universally important question of nations without State. It is up to the world system and development agencies to come out with convincing models,” said the communiqué, jointly issued by the Tamil Coordinating Committee (TCC) Norway, Norwegian Council of Eelam Tamils (NCET), Tamil Women's Organisation, Tamils Rehabilitation Organisation (TRO) and The Economic Consulting House (TECH) Norway.

“If unchallenged, the ‘Sri Lanka’ paradigm is going to be implemented in other parts of the world,” the joint communiqué further said.

Tamil Sangam i Norge, Tamilsk Norsk Hjelp (TNH), The Economic Consultancy House Norway (Tech Norway), Norwegian Council Eezham Tamils (NCET), Education Career Forum Norway, Tamilsk Samordningstutvalg (TCC), Tamilsk Kvinneorganisasjon (TKO / Tamil women's organisation), Tamilsk Ressurs og Veiledningssenter (TRVS), Tamil Youth Organisation Norway (TYO), Norsk Tamilsk Studie Forum, Norges Hindu Kultursenter and Catholic Tamil Welfare Association (Catwas) were the 12 groups invited by Utviklingsfondet (The Development Fund).

One of the key funding sources of the Development Fund is NORAD, the Norwegian Agency for Development, which is a directorate under the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The NORAD also reports to Norwegian Ministry of Climate and Environment.

Apart from channelling Norwegian public funds through NORAD, the Norwegian Foreign Ministry also directly funds a section of NGOs both in Norway and outside. One of the recipients of millions of Norwegian kroners is Dialogue Advocacy Group (DAG), which was established by none other than Ram Manikkalingam. He teaches politics at the University of Amsterdam.

Manikkalingam was a Senior Advisor on the Sri Lankan peace process to former SL President Chandrika Kumaratunga Bandaranaike (CBK). Mr Manikkalingam has also served as an advisor with Ambassador rank at the ‘Sri Lanka’ Mission to the United Nations in New York.

Ram Manikkalingam's DAG has been receiving Norwegian funding for a long time and the DAG has been profiling itself as a brokering institution between non-state armed groups and state actors. One of its specialisations is to provide informal backchannels between the ‘armed groups’ and ‘international actors’.

The Norwegian Foreign Ministry officials were attempting to convince the elected representatives of the NCET to attend to the meeting, stating that Mr Ram Manikalingam was a key actor in convincing CBK to agree for the Post-Tsunami Operational Management Structure agreement between the GoSL and the LTTE in 2005.

The unitary Sri Lankan State system, especially the SL Judiciary, nullified the PTOMS agreement as was predicted by TamilNet Senior Editor Mr Dharmeratnam Sivaram (Taraki), before his assassination during the regime of CBK.

The Development Fund has been involved in funding arrangements for ‘Sri Lanka What Next’ meetings in which Erik Solheim was participating to ‘reflect’ upon the role of diaspora, the role of the International Community and the role of ‘development’ actors such as the NGOs in the past.

The dialogue meeting on Wednesday was organised jointly by the Development Fund and “Diaspora Network”, an organisation established in Norway in 2011.

A Tamil post-doctoral researcher doing diaspora studies in a Norwegian university, who was earlier involved in backing LTTE's armed struggle as its chief fund organiser abroad and who was later involved in hijacking the TGTE experiment to take a pro-Establishment line in 2009, has been a deputy board member in the “Diaspora Network”.

A Norwegian NGO official representing the Development Fund, who has been playing a key role in engaging with the diaspora on behalf of the funding outfit is also a board member in the “Diaspora Network".

About the meeting with Ram Manikkalingam, an email invitation from “Diaspora Network” claimed: This is very «HIGH LEVEL MEETING FOR US». The invitation was sent by “Disapora Network” Chairman Tayyab M. Choudri, a Norwegian Pakistani.

A veteran Norwegian Tamil professor of development studies, having long connections with CBK, was a key promoter of the Ram Manikkalingam meet. He was earlier associated with NORAD and now is a board member of Tamilsk Norsk Hjelp, one of the participating organisations in the meeting.

Actively professing that the struggle of Eezham Tamils is ‘narrow nationalism’, the ‘Sri Lanka’ paradigm academic was recently engaged in mobilisations in the island and in Norway, preparing ground for the current move, informed sources said.

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