Former Norwegian politician and peace envoy, Erik Solheim, says he would go before the International Criminal Court or any recognized international tribunal to give evidence against Sri Lanka on alleged war crimes.
Solheim, who was the peace negotiator between the government and the Tamil Tigers for almost a decade, told Ceylon Today in an exclusive interview, “I will stand witness before any recognized international tribunal if I am asked to do so, on Sri Lanka’s alleged human rights violations and war crimes.”
Commenting on the contentious issue of Tamil Tigers surrendering to the government forces during the final days of the war and on the Norwegians asking them to raise white flags and announce their intention to surrender using loudspeakers, Solheim said, “On 17 May 2009, the Norwegians and others received calls from the LTTE senior militants Pulidevan and Nadesan, who wanted to surrender. “We told them it was too late for us to arrange anything and advised them about raising a white flag. On 18 May, we were informed that they were killed.
He added: “The war was won at a tremendous cost and I will witness before any recognized international tribunal investigating Sri Lanka.”
He also said he has been asked by the United Nations and the US and others on different occasions about the human rights violations in Sri Lanka.
He said he also anticipated after the war, a move by the UN and the international community to probe human rights allegations. “Yes, I knew what was going to come about. That was clear from the very beginning,” he added. Solheim said there were too many innocent people who died in the war and that was at a tremendous cost, “The war could have been solved through peace talks without military action,” he pointed out.
The former peace negotiator, who is at present the Chair of the Development Assistance Committee based in the US, is also gearing up to launch his book which is not named as yet, on his peace mission with Sri Lanka and the Tamil Tigers.
He said the book will have all the details from the time he took over the mission and the actions of the LTTE and most importantly the action of the Sri Lankan politicians.
He said the book would be launched early 2015 ‘to set the history straight’ and added that, “We were very close to peace in Sri Lanka. What happened during the successful time when there were no killings? Why did the peace process ultimately fail? Why did the parties want to go back to war? All will be explained.”