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Those who watched the celebration of our servicemen on May 19th told me the President seemed upset when he had to condole with the families of those who had died. Catching glimpses of the march past, I could understand that. But in addition to sorry for them, and indeed for the Tamils too who had died in the last days of the war, and earlier, I was angry too.

The LTTE had to be defeated, and those who laid down their lives for this did not die unnecessarily. So too those who died because of the brutality of the LTTE, the hostage taking, the assassinations, the horrendous tactics such as electrifying water, were victims of a megalomanic mentality, and there is no point in recriminations about Prabhakaran’s brutality, just as there is no point in recriminations about the destructive power of a tsunami. One simply sorrows, for those who died, and for those who suffered, with perhaps some regret that no one had stopped him earlier.

Wikileaks – 09GENEVA584 2009-07-15 09:23 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Mission Geneva

But there must be anger about those who contributed to protracted delay, and on May 19th I was thinking of those wicked people who supported the LTTE in the last days, in particular those who contributed equipment to enable them to build up huge defences. These led to the taking of Kilinochchi taking much longer than it should have, with many of our youngsters dying in trying to get over the tall barricades. Worse, it gave the LTTE time to plan and ruthlessly execute the hostage taking that they had determined on, in Prabhakaran’s ‘Gotterdammerung’ vision.

The most horrible contribution to my mind was that of the organization called Norwegian People’s Aid, which allowed over 40 of their vehicles to be used. They did not inform us about them, and only acknowledged what had happened when the Defence Ministry asked. Even then they only admitted to a few, and it was only later that they acknowledged the full force of the aid they had given.

Abandoned earth moving equipment – LTTE bund construction.

They lied to the European Union by pretending that this had happened because we had not permitted any Europeans to remain in Kilinochchi. At a meeting of the Consultative Committee on Humanitarian Assistance they had to admit that this was not the case, and they excused themselves on the grounds that it was only a junior person who had stayed, as though such a person could not count the number of vehicles that the LTTE had taken away.

In Colombo, when what had happened was revealed, there was anger against the Norwegians. This was misplaced. There were no Norwegians in senior positions with NPA, rather it was managed by a conglomerate called Solidar, which was headed by British personnel. The leadership of this was pretty suspect, one Britisher called Peter Sunderland I think, another with several passports called Felipe Atkins, and the spider at the centre of the web a man called Guy Rhodes. There was also Mathew Todd, who was in charge of a German aid agency, who I used to think an innocent computer buff, married as he was to a great friend of mine, until he fled Sri Lanka quite suddenly when it seemed further information was emerging about the activities of the agencies that made up Solidar.

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Recent reports have dwelt on a Wikileaks revelation about a meeting the US ambassador in Norway had with NGO representatives. This occurred on August 24th 2009 ‘to discuss the recent conflict in Sri Lanka, specifically in relation to a Congressional reporting requirement in recent supplemental funding legislation.’

Ranveig Tveitnes of FORUT ...succeeded in teaching Sri Lankans to boil water before drinking it.

The salient meeting on that day was with Ranveig Tveitnes former country director for Forut. I recall her as a particularly silly young woman, who had claimed, when told that NGOs had spent millions on what was termed capacity building to no purpose, that they had succeeded in teaching Sri Lankans to boil water before drinking it. Harsha Nawaratne, the Head of  Sewalanka, said he pointed out that he had known about the need for this long before NGOs descended on Sri Lanka.

Tveitnes however turned out to be vicious as well, and fell out with her local staff. This led to her being ‘expelled from Sri Lanka without an explanation’ according to Wikileaks. I am told that in fact she had to leave because her visa was not renewed but, given her performance in the short time she was here, that was not entirely surprising. She continued however to fulfil the aim with which it seemed she had originally come to Sri Lanka, in that she told the American ambassador ‘that Forut, and a number of other international NGOs, had local staff on the ground with satellite phones who were able to provide brief but consistent text message situation reports. Tveitnes also would text specific questions to her contact and receive responses.’ Read the rest of this entry »

Rajiva Wijesinha

November 2018
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