Saturday, September 24, 2011

Lifestyles of Jaffna ~ Rare Exhibition Showcases the Richness of Tradition

Kolam ~ Traditional design made with variety of grains

Lifestyles of Jaffna is currently being held at the Faculty of Arts, University of Jaffna. Artifacts collected from the people of Jaffna are on display. The unique exhibition will continue till 27th of September 2011 from 9am to 4pm. There are research papers read by the Tamil and Sinhala scholars from Sri Lanka and India during a seminar held simultaneously in Jaffna.

Views from the Lifestyles of Jaffna site:~

The exhibition is an eye opener. I gained more knowledge about our unique heritage after viewing the exhibition. Although, I am student of arts, I did not know much about our unique heritage. The exhibition paved way to learn more. We ought to preserve our precious heritage” shares Rasapatham Karunanithy, third year student of Arts at the University of Jaffna.

We, Jaffna Tamils are unique in every way such as dresses, festivals, food, handicrafts and rituals. But due to the prolonged war, we have lost many of our traditional items and values” shares Gowry Karunakaran with frustration.

Efforts to have an exhibition such as this is appreciative, because it gives a chance for knowledge transformation about uniqueness and traditional cultural aspects of Tamil of Jaffna Peninsula. And this effort has to be an ongoing process” shares Balachandran Nirooparaj from Jaffna.

Cow dung, turmeric and wheat flour are used to make the traditional design

Traditional decoration to welcome

Traditional welcome for the chief guest and invitees

The Chief Guest, Director General of Archaeological Department Dr. Senarath Dissanayake declares open the Lifestyles of Jaffna

Viewers getting involved in the products on display

Exhibits are displayed in Jaffna

Chief Guest, Director General of Archaeological Department Dr. Senarath Dissanayake views the exhibition

Vintage car is parked at the exhibition site

School children are viewing the unique exhibition

Archeological sites in Jaffna

Saturday, September 17, 2011

A Return To Sri Lanka ~ A Travelling Exhibition

Portrait of a young Sri Lankan woman ~ 1880s ~ Charles T. Scowen And Co

The Coming of Photography

Goldsmiths at work in Jaffna ~ 1880s ~ W. L. H. Skeen And Co

Covering nearly 300 years of Sri Lankan history, "A Return to Sri Lanka" is a rare opportunity to see a unique selection of over 150 images drawn from the collections of the British Library, the Victoria and Albert Museums, the Natural History Museum in London and the National Museum in Colombo. Through manuscripts, maps, prints, drawings, photographs and other artefacts, the exhibition illustrates how the island has inspired both visiting and local artists to document its peoples, landscapes and cultures. The exhibition covers images of Sri Lanka from British Collections 1640 ~ 1900.

Maps by Pedro Resende Barreto ~ From 1635 ~ 1835

Map of the Island of Ceylon ~ 1835 ~ Pedro Resende Barreto

Plan of Jaffna ~ 1635 ~ Pedro Resende Barreto

Plan of Trincomalee ~ 1635 ~ Pedro Resende Barreto

Plan of Batticaloa ~ 1635 ~ Pedro Resende Barreto

Plan of Kalutara ~ 1635 ~ Pedro Resende Barreto

European fascination with Sri Lanka was initially stimulated by its strategic position in the struggle for colonial dominance in South Asia and as the source of many of the immensely profitable spices for which European trading companies competed. With increasing familiarity, Europeans also slowly became aware of ~ and attempted to record—both the beauty of the island and its rich cultural heritage, in fields as diverse as archaeology and natural history. During these centuries, a thriving market with European customers also developed for the products of Sri Lanka’s own vibrant artistic traditions. The long story of interaction between Europe and Sri Lanka has resulted in a rich and varied legacy of images which provide a fascinating insight into the island’s history during the colonial period.

A Jaffna barber’s shop ~ 1880s ~ Unknown Photographer

"A Return to Sri Lanka" brings a choice selection of this common heritage to a Sri Lankan audience in the form of digital facsimiles of material held in several major British collections.

Eugen Von Ransonnet ~ Villez ~ Ransonnet’s diving bell used to sketch submarine life near Galle ~ 1867

Admission is free and the exhibition will visit four major cities in the island between September and November 2011. The venues and schedules for the display are as follows:~

Colombo ~ Lionel Wendt Gallery ~ From 14th September 2011 ~ 28th September 2011
Jaffna ~ Jaffna Public Library ~ From 5th October 2011 ~ 19th October 2011
Kandy ~ Kandy City Centre ~ From 24th October ~ 6th November 2011
Galle ~ Galle Municipal Council ~ From 11th November 2011 ~ 24th November 2011

New and correct map of the Island of Ceylon ~ 1822 ~ Captain Gualterus Schneider

This exhibition is funded by the World Collections Programme and produced by the British Library and the British Council. The World Collections Programme is a UK Government funded initiative to foster bilateral links between UK cultural institutions and partner organisations in Asia and Africa, to facilitate greater access to collections and to make British collections available to a wide international audience. At the end of its tour the exhibition will be gifted to the Ministry of Heritage to make it more widely available to a Sri Lankan audience.

Viewers at the unique exhibition

A Water Carrier ~ 1806 ~ Samuel Daniell

Kandy Perahera ~ Mid 19th Century ~ Unknown Sri Lankan Artist

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Lifestyles of Jaffna ~ An Exhibition to Preserve Our History and Heritage

Traditional Foods of Jaffna

Traditional Dress and Jewellery of Jaffna

This Exhibition is planned to showcase all possibly available ancient goods and facts, which expose and prove the historical facts about the ancient people of Jaffna Peninsula, their ancient homes and residences, style and process of their life, population and inhabitation.

Traditional Houses in the Peninsula

Eco Friendly Fences in Jaffna

The recent goods and their images and photos which prove the ancestry of the Jaffna Peninsula, hereditary culture etc. are exhibited according to periodical order.
Most of the exhibited goods, images, sculptures, symbols, facts, etc. are collected by the students of the Jaffna University, by visiting various parts of the Jaffna Peninsula. The ancient goods including sculptures, images etc from the University Museum are also exhibited. The ancient goods discovered in archaeological excavations are also exhibited.

Ruins in Kantharodai

Seminars will be conducted at the Arts Faculty of the University during the days of the Exhibition. Indian Scholars ~ namely, Professors MS. Rajan, Selva Kumar, Adiyaman, and Doctor Rajagopal, More than fifteen Scholars from the universities in Southern part of the country will submit their research papers at the seminar.
Dr. Senerath Dissanayake, the Director General of Archaeological Department will be present as the Chief Guest at the inaugural ceremony of the Exhibition. Professor Vasanthy Arasaratnam – Vice Chancellor of the University of Jaffna will be the Honorary Guest. The exhibition will be held from 24th September 2011 ~ 27th September 2011 at the Faculty of Arts of University of Jaffna, from 9am ~ 4.30pm. "Lifestyles of Jaffna" is conducted by the Faculty of Arts of University of Jaffna in collaboration with Kalaikesari Tamil magazine.

Kingdom of Nallur

The ancient goods and items to be exhibited are:~

*The drainage and water supply systems and agricultural implements
*Systems of structures, temples, houses and sculptures, ancient fishing systems and implements
*Techniques of producing ancient implements made with iron, copper,etc
*Furniture and domestic implements
*Methods of producing palmyrah goods and food items
*Techniques of building boats, bullock carts,etc
*Traditional food items
*Educational systems in ancient Jaffna Peninsula,etc
*Dialects in the Jaffna Peninsula

Traditional Occupations in the Peninsula

Bull Cart Race in the Peninsula

Keerimalai ~ Naguleswaram is one of famous five Lord Sivan temples in Sri Lanka

Traditional Household Items of Jaffna

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

தினக்குரல் பத்திரிகையாளர்கள் வெளியேற்றப்பட்டனர்; முகத்துவாரம் பொலிசில் முறைப்பாடு

ஊழியர்களுக்கான அறிவித்தல் ~ 13.09.2011

ஊழியர்களுக்கான அறிவித்தல் ~ 12.09.2011

தினக்குரல் ஆசிரிய பீடத்தின் 25 பத்திரிகையாளர்கள் இன்று புதன்கிழமை காரியாலயத்தினுள் நுழைய அனுமதிக்கப்படாமல் ஏஷியன் மீடியா பப்ளிகேஷன்ஸ் பிரைவேட் நிர்வாகத்தினால் வீதியில் நிறுத்தப்பட்டதையடுத்து சட்டவிரோதமாகத் தாங்கள் வேலையில் இருந்து தடுக்கப்பட்டிருப்பதாகக் கொழும்பு முகத்துவாரம் பொலிஸ் நிலையத்தில் அவர்கள் புகார் செயதிருக்கிறார்கள் .

நிர்வாகத்தின் வற்புறுத்தலுக்கு அடிபணிய மறுத்து இதுவரை ராஜினாமாக் கடிதங்களைக் கொடுக்காத தினக்குரல் 25 பத்திரிகையாளர்களே இவ்வாறு இன்று வீதியில் நிறுத்தப்பட்டுள்ளார்கள்.

இதேசமயம், தினக்குரல் ஊழியர்கள் கொழும்பு தொழில் திணைக்களத்தில் தம் மீதான ராஜினாமா வற்புறுத்தல் குறித்தும் வேலைக்கு அனுமதிக்கப்படாமை குறித்தும் முறைப்பாடு செய்துள்ளார்கள். இதனையடுத்து இது விடயத்தில் விளக்கமளிக்க வருமாறு தொழில் திணைக்களத்தின் உதவிப் ஆணையாளர் விக்கிரமசிங்க ஏஷியன் மீடியா பப்ளிகேஷன்ஸ் பிரைவேட் நிறுவனத்தின் பணிப்பாளர் பி . கேசவராஜாவை அழைத்த போதிலும் இன்று தனக்கு நேரம் இல்லை என்று மறுத்து விட்டார். இதனையடுத்து நாளைய தினம் இந்த சந்திப்பும் பிணக்கு தீர்க்கும் கூட்டமும் நடைபெறவிருக்கிறது.

தினக்குரல் பப்ளிகேஷன் நிறுவனத்தை வாங்கிய வீரகேசரி நிறுவனம் (ஏஷியன் மீடியா பப்ளிகேஷன் நிறுவனம்) தினக்குரல் பத்திரிகையை ஜூன் 30ஆம் திகதியிலிருந்து நடத்தி வருகிறது. வெளியேற்றப்பட்ட 25 பத்திரிகையாளர்களும் கடந்த 2 மாதங்கள் 13 நாட்கள் ஏஷியன் மீடியா பப்ளிகேஷன்ஸ் பிரைவேட் நிறுவனத்திற்காகப் பணியாற்றியிருக்கிறார்கள். ஏஷியன் மீடியா பப்ளிகேசன்ஸ் பிரைவேட் நிறுவனத்திலிருந்தே அவர்களுக்குச் சம்பளமும் வழங்கப்பட்டிருக்கிறது.

ஆனால், தினக்குரல் நிறுவனத்திலிருந்து விலகுவதாக ராஜினாமாக் கடிதங்களைச் சமர்ப்பிக்கும் ஊழியர்களுக்கு மட்டுமே, ஏஷியன் மீடியா பப்ளிகேஷன்ஸ் பிரைவேட் நிறுவனத்தினால் நியமனக் கடிதம் வழங்கப்படும் என்ற நிபந்தனையை வீரகேசரி நிறுவனம் விதித்திருக்கிறது. தினக்குரலைச் சிறிது காலத்தில் மூடுகின்ற சந்தர்ப்பத்தில் தினக்குரல் ஊழியர்களுக்குப் பெரும் தொகை நஷ்ட ஈடு வழங்க வேண்டி இருக்கும் என்பதாலேயே முன் எச்சரிக்கையாக அவர்களிடம் இருந்து ராஜினாமாக் கடிதங்களைப் பெறுவதில் நிர்வாகம் உறுதியாக இருந்து வந்தது. ராஜினாமாக் கடிதங்களைச் சமர்ப்பிப்பதற்கு இன்று புதன்கிழமை வரை காலக்கெடு விதித்திதிருந்த ஏஷியன் மீடியா பப்ளிகேஷன்ஸ் பிரைவேட் நிறுவனம் 25 பத்திரிகையாளர்களும் ராஜினாமாக் கடிதங்களைச் சமர்ப்பிக்காததால் அவர்களைக் காரியாலயத்தினுள் நுழைய அனுமதிக்கவில்லை. அத்துடன் செய்தி ஆசிரியர் மற்றும் பத்திரிகையாளர்களுக்கான பதவி வெற்றிட விண்ணப்ப அறிவித்தல்களை ஏஷியன் மீடியா பப்ளிகேஷன் பிரைவேட் நிறுவனம் வெளியிட்டிருக்கிறது.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembering a Remarkable Poet

"We will destroy the idiocy
Of denigrating womanhood
" ~ Mahakavi Subramaniya Bhaarathiyaar, (11 December 1882 ~11 September 1921), (Tamil Poet, Reformer and Freedom Fighter who supported the women and their rights)

Statue of Great Tamil poet Mahakavi Subramaniya Bhaarathiyaar stands tall in Jaffna Peninsula, North of Sri Lanka

Today is Mahakavi Subramaniya Bhaarathiyaar’s 90th death anniversary. He was very well known for his passionate poems and his active role in Indian independence movement. He was and still known as people’s poet and freedom fighter. Bharathiyaar has written many poems on women’s freedom, caste and patriotism.

Bharathiyaar was prolific and adept in both the prose and poetry forms. Bharathiyaar was a symbol of courage, knowledge and resilience. He was born on 11th December 1882 into an orthodox Brahmin family in Ettayapuram in Tamil Nadu, India and died on 11th September 1921. Bharathiyaar’s father wanted him to learn English, excel in Arithmetic and become an Engineer. But, Bharathiyaar had another dream to discover. He became a poet and activist. His poetry expressed progressive and reformist ideas. He was very passionate about Tamil language. He did not believe in caste system. His thick black mustache and neatly worn white turban are permanent symbols of மகா கவி மக்கள் கவி (Great Poet = People's Poet).

மகாகவி சுப்ரமணிய பாரதியாரின் தமிழ்க் கையெழுத்து
Signature of Mahakavi Subramaniya Bhaarathiyaar in Tamil

He got married to his cousin Sellammaal at the age of 14 in 1897. Bharathiyaar composed an instant poem for his wife Sellammaal.

"You are the veenai to me; I am the finger that strums the tuned string,
You are the pendant adorning my neck; I’m your new diamond sparkling.
Wherever I look, what do I see but the blazing lustre of your regal eye?
Your esteemed highness, my QUEEN, you are the bedrock of my life

He has penned many patriotic poems

His KuyilPaattu is still famous among many of us:~

In the crow’s black feather, Nanda Lala,
I see your duskiness, Nanda La La.
In every green tree that I see, Nanda La La,
I see your divine colour, Nanda La La.
In every sound that I hear, Nanda La La,
I hear the sound of your music, Nanda La La.
In the touch of a fire, Nanda La La,
I feel the thrill of touching you, Nanda La La

A Crow sits on a Cow in the Nallur temple vicinity early in the morning

Flocks of crows neatly sit on power cables in Jaffna at dusk

ஆயிரம் உண்டிங்கு சாதி, எனில் அன்னியர் வந்து புகழென்ன நீதி? ~ We may have thousand of sects; that, however, does not justify a foreigner to come and preach us justice! He is dearly loved and his passionate poems are often remembered remarkably by many Tamils in Sri Lanka.

Flocks of crows dance in the skies of Jaffna at dusk

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The nature of the Norwegian participation in the Sri Lankan Peace Process

Dusk during winter in Norway

History of the Conflict

It is not very clear to all of us, when did the Sri Lankan conflict begin? Some analysts say that the conflict started in 1956, with the introduction of the Sinhala only act in the country, which led to communal uprisings. Some other analysts say that the conflict began in 1983 after the Black July, which killed many thousands of innocent Tamils in the city of Colombo and suburbs, and their properties were destroyed by the Sinhala mobs. And some other analysts argue it is an ethnic conflict.

“The Sri Lankan Civil War is the name given to the ongoing conflict on the island-nation of Sri Lanka. Since 23 July 1983, there has been on-and-off civil war predominantly between the government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE, also known as the Tamil Tigers), a separatist armed organization which fights for the creation of an independent state named Tamil Eelam in the North and the East of the island” according to some political analysts.

Sri Lanka’s current population is 21,128,773 according to the 2008 census, which is expected to reach upto 23 million by 2030 according to a recent survey. Out of this figure more than 70,000 people have been officially listed as killed due to the conflict after 1983. After the 1983 Black July, many young Tamils left the country. The war continued in the North and East of the country. There had been three attempts made to reinstate peace in Sri Lanka including the Indo-Lanka Accord in 1987, which ended in 1990.

Ceasefire was declared in December 2001. The then Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL) and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) signed a ceasefire agreement on 22nd of February 2002 with the Norwegian mediation. The ceasefire was observed by both parties with the help of Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission, which consisted foreign monitors from Nordic countries, who were based in North and East to monitor the ceasefire. The hostilies renewed in 2005. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam were driven out of entire Eastern province. After winning the battle of the East, the Government of Sri Lanka has shifted it’s offensive against the LTTE in the North. At the same time the Government had officially announced the withdrawal from the Ceasefire Agreement on 2nd of January 2008.As a result of the current conflict the Government has captured 98% of the territory which was controlled by the LTTE for more than a decade. The United States of America, European Union, Japan and Norway have jointly issued a statement on 3rd of February 2009, urging the LTTE to lay down their arms and end hostilities.

Norways’ Role in other countries

Norway has been an active supporter of the peace efforts in two decade long conflict in Southern Sudan along with the United States of America and the United Kingdom.
Norway has played a central role in Middle Eastern conflict between Isreal and Palestine. As a result of this, a peace agreement was signed between Israel and Palestine in 1993, now Norway is actively promoting the implementation of the Roadmap for Peace.
A peace agreement was signed in Oslo in 1996 to settle the Guatemalan conflict.

Norway’s role in Sri Lankan Conflict

Parliament on Norway

Norway’s Motto is Alt for Norge / Alt for Noreg (Everything for Norway).Norway is known as a peaceful country, and a peace maker. Norway has experience through World War II.Norway has a rapid economic growth. Norway is a wealthy country, and the fourth largest oil exporter in the world. It was the second largest exporter of seafood in 2006.

Nobel Peace Center in Oslo, Norway

Norway was rated the most peaceful country in the world by Global Peace Index in 2007. And, Norway was ranked the highest in human development from 2001 to 2006. Norway shares the frist place with Iceland from 2007 to 2008.
Kingdom of Norway has 4,805,437 people according to the census carried out on 29th of January 2009. The country is richly endowed with natural resources such as petroleum, hydropower, fish, forests and minerals.

There are 13,063 Sri Lankan Tamils living in Norway, which is 0.27% of the total population. The Sri Lankan Tamils, who are living in Norway are taking part in local politics, and they are very infulential. It’s also believed that the LTTE wanted Norwegian Government to mediate, because the Sri Lankan Tamils had an influence in Norwegian politics.

Yazhdevi Restaurant run by the Jaffna Tamils in Oslo, Norway

The then Government led by the former Prime Minister of Sri Lanka Ranil Wickremasinghe invited Norway to mediate the peace process in Sri Lanka. Ranil Wickremasinghe campaigned for pro peae during his election campaign in 2001. He won the election with sweeping majority. As a result, a Memorumdum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between Ranil Wickremasinghe and the Leader of the LTTE Velupillai Pirabakaran with the help of Norwegian Government. The economic embargo in the LTTE controlled areas was lifted, A9 highway from Jaffna to Kandy was reopened for civilians. Civilians were allowed to travel through Vanni for the first time in history.Many such as journalists, students, religious leaders, businessmen, and tourists enjoyed the journey on A9 highway. Most of the non ~ Tamil speaking travellers went to Jaffna for the first time by A9 highway during the ceasefire period. Commercial flights to Jaffna began their operations soon after the ceasefire agreement was signed. The ban on the LTTE was lifted in August 2002. The Government and the LTTE exchanged Prisoners of War (POW) for the first time in the history of Sri Lanka.

The Royal Norwegian facilitators have assisted the Government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam to negotiate for a ceasefire. Norway has aslo co~ordinated the donors to support the Sri Lankan peace process. And, contributed to the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission, which used to monitor the ceasefire agreement.
There had been six rounds of peace talks held between the Government and the LTTE. The peace process stalled on 21st of April 2003, when the LTTE announced that they are suspending the further talks due to some displeasure of handling certain critical issues such as excluding the LTTE in Washington talks and peace dividends such as security withdrawals were not met. But according to many reports published the LTTE maintained the fact that, they were committed for a negotiated settlement to the two decade long conflict.During the ceasefire period Norwegian Peace Envoy Erik Solheim visited Sri Lanka many times and held talks with the Government and the LTTE in Vanni.

Norwegian’s role is criticised

The flag of Royal Norway was burnt in front of the Norwegian Embassy in Colombo by some Buddhist monks on 9th of Februaray 2004, in protest of the peace process with the LTTE. There had been constant attacks on Norway’s role in the anti~peace media. Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) and Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) continued to attack Norway for its sincere role in peace making, and held protests islandwide. There had been enough hate speech in the media by the anti~peace activists that “Norway is selling the country to the LTTE”. There had been numerous incidents to sling mud on Norway’s sincere effort to end the conflict in Sri Lanka.

Anura Kumara Dissanayake, of the Marxist JVP, or People's Liberation Front, told reporters that the Norwegians would be "an unfair facilitator".

"We have the example of Israeli-Palestine conflict. The Norwegian
brokering there had not led to any peace
", Dissanayake said.

But the independent newspaper, The Island, was also disparaging of any role by Oslo.

"The Norwegian government has shown itself to be very partial towards the LTTE and this was the reason why their mediation efforts made earlier failed," it said it an editorial Friday.

Norway has been facilitator and not a dictator in this peace process” Former Norwegian Special Envoy Erik Solheim quoted as saying.

It is very positive that the parties have agreed to meet at a high level to discuss how to improve the serious security situation” said the Norwegian Minister of International Development Erik Solheim.

Norway in its role as facilitator will do its best to help the parties to find a practical solution to relieve the pressure the ceasefire has come under. The parties are taking a small but very significant step towards putting the peace process back on a positive track” added Solheim.

Norway’s mediation role was mainly criticed by the pro~war elements such as JVP and JHU. Continuous reports of anti~peace efforts were available in public domain, criticising the Norwegian efforts to restore peace in war torn Sri Lanka. There had been posters pasted in Sinhala on the walls in Colombo and suburbs during the peace process, which gave a negative picture of the Norwegian facilitation. Even the helicopter service provided by the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission to airlift the LTTE representatives to go abroad for peace talks, which was facilitated by the Norwegian Government was continuously criticised.

Amidst the criticisms, the President of Sri Lanka Mahinda Rajapakse requested Norway to continue mediating with the LTTE. It was being speculated by various elements that, Norway was paving way to the LTTE to raise funds in other countries, although LTTE was banned in United States of America, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, India, Japan, European Union and Brazil.

Difficult Task

It was not an easy task, which was carried out by the Norwegian Government. They had to face several hardships in bringing both the Government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam to the same table for talks. As mediators, they encouraged discussion between both parties.

The LTTE informed the Norwegian mediators, that they would not accept the ceasefire monitors from European Union countries, which banned the LTTE. The Norwegian mediators had to handle this issue with the LTTE very tactfully.

"The European Union, despite the imposition of the ban, has taken the position that they will continue to engage with the LTTE as far as the peace process is concerned," said Late Ketesh Loganathan, the Deputy Head of the Government Peace Secretariat. "So, we see this as no reason as to why the monitors who are from the EU countries cannot function".

The Norwegian mediators managed the situation amidst attacks in the media. There had been new reports filed saying that, Norway was interested in oil resource which was available in Mannar. Therefore, Norway had an economic interest in Sri Lanka, and they were not genuinely engaged in settling the conflict.

Does Norway Support Terrorism?

A few anti~peace activists alleged Norway as supporting terrorism in Sri Lanka. The have accused the Norwegians were supporting the LTTE financially, and Norway was partial towards the LTTE. Norwegians were blamed by the hard~line politicians as they had a “soft corner” for the LTTE.

Many allegations were made against the Norwegian Government that, Norway has provided Radio transmitting devices to the LTTE during the ceasefire period. Former President of Sri Lanka Mrs. Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga has sent a six paged letter to Norwegian Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik.

Former President of Sri Lanka Mrs. Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga’s letter to the Former Prime Minister of Sri Lanka Ranil Wickremasinghe states “I am unable to agree with you that "the acquisition of an FM radio transmission facility would enhance the peace process". In fact, it may well have the opposite effect as widespread public agitation over the whole episode reveals. I understand that the LTTE transmissions which commenced on January 16th include LTTE songs and music, and eulogies of the LTTE''s martial history. This could have a disturbing effect on the public mood for peace. We must also be sensitive to the legitimate concerns of our neighbours”. Nevertheless, the LTTE managed to expand its radio station named “Voice of Tigers known as VOT)”. The LTTE used its radio station as a propaganda tool, which broadcasts eight hours daily in Tamil and Sinhala. A website for the radio was launched later during the ceasefire period. The Embassy of Norway in Colombo was blamed for this development, as it used its diplomatic privilege to import the radio transmitting equipments with concessions.

Gustav Vigeland Park in Norway

Pressure on LTTE

After 9/11 attack in United States of America in 2001, there had been continuous pressure from various sides on the LTTE to enter into negotiations. Tamil Diaspora played a major role in convincing the LTTE for negotiations with the Government of Sri Lanka. On the other hand many countries were considering the ban on the LTTE as well as a result of the 9/11 attack.

Split in the LTTE

In 2004, the Eastern Commander of the LTTE Colonel Karuna (Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan) has decided to leave the organization along with considerable number of cadres, which was an irreplaceable loss to the LTTE. The reasons sited by him for leaving the organization were, of development was carried out by the LTTE during the ceasefire period, and the cadres from the East were not taken care of by the leader and the organisation.

Will India replace Norway?

When Norway’s role is continuously criticized, speculation spreads whether India will intervene in the internal conflict of Sri Lanka. Although the question remains unanswered, but many of us do not fail to realize that India is not ready to burn its fingers again. India’s role in peace keeping in Sri Lanka during 1987 to 1990 was not welcome by very many Sri Lankans.

Political parties such as Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna, and Jathika Hela Urumaya may like the Indian role, but the LTTE will definitely not welcome it. But the question arises whether the Sri Lankan conflict can be resolved without the LTTE. If not the LTTE, then who will represent the minority Tamils in Sri Lanka? Or do the Tamils trust the other Tamil political parties in Sri Lanka? These questions will remain unanswered.

Recent accusation by the JVP

The National Freedom Front (NFF), a party of the ruling coalition, urged the Government yesterday to sever its diplomatic relationships with Norway immediately charging that it had facilitated a discussion between UN Under~Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs Sir John Holmes and LTTE’s arms procurement dealer Kumar Pathmanathan alias KP recently.

Quoting a military analyst, NFF President Wimal Weeranwansa told a news briefing on Thursday that Norway had accepted KP as the LTTE leader, and arranged his dialogue with Mr. Holmes.

Mr. Weerawansa said that KP was a person wanted by the Interpol for his arms smuggling activities for the LTTE, and he possessed 25 bogus passports.
The UN has committed a serious offence by having links with an arms dealer. It is an act inimical to Sri Lanka. Norway has committed so many inimical acts against Sri Lanka. Therefore, we are asking the Government to sever its diplomatic relationships with this country” he said.

He said that Norway had helped the LTTE through this exercise, and it should make a statement in this regard immediately.
Even the UN should make a statement” he said.
If the LTTE lays down arms and surrenders, this war will end even tomorrow. So, it should be held responsible for the present crisis” Wimal Weerawansa further said.

Who will mediate?

If Norway is not invited to mediate the Sri Lankan peace process again, then who will be the third party to take the peace process forward? The Government is pushing the LTTE to corners, and will be able to negotiate for a political settlement later. By that time the LTTE will be weakened militarily and after losing territory, they will come for negotiations, this is the perception amongst many of us. But if the Government is going to persecute the hardcore LTTE leaders, then it is not yet clear with whom the negotiations will take place.

And, if the chances still stand, then will Norway be willing to negotiate the peace process again? Or will both parties trust Norway, especially the Government of Sri Lanka bearing all the accusations and allegations in its mind?

Genuine Effort

Norway entered into mediating the Sri Lankan peace process with genuine interest to resolve the conflict, and help to have a sustainable peace in the country. But, unfortunately the situation changed rapidly, and fragile peace led to war again.
Neither the Government of Sri Lanka nor the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam has borne the cost of the peace process. All the cost during the peace process was borne by the Royal Norwegian Government. They were sincerely involved, and committed for a permanent settlement for the two decade long conflict. They neither had hidden agenda nor hidden interests in the country’s resources.

Magnificent sunset in Norway during winter

Variety of winter birds in Norway

The above research paper was written and submitted as an assignment on the topic of "Mediation" for the Diploma in Conflict Resolution: Skills Development conducted by Bandaranaike Centre for International Studies (BCIS) in 2009.