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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2366

Helen Olafsdottir’s to be asked to leave Sri Lanka?

By Dushy Ranetunge

The current acting Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission spokesperson and the former SLMM spokesperson, Ms Helen Olafsdottoir may have her immigration status to remain in Sri Lanka withdrawn as the matter is said to be under consideration.

There is concern in Colombo that she is constantly overreaching herself and making statements which are wholly inappropriate, perhaps influenced by the LTTE by her constant and disproportionate visits to Kilinochchi to meet with S. Pulidevan, Secretary General of the LTTE’s Peace Secretariat, one of the public faces of this internationally proscribed terrorist organisation.

In Geneva, Minister Jeyarajpullai informed this writer that Ms Helen Olafsdottir had commented in the presence of Pulidevan, that the government’s reluctance in opening the A9 highway may be to ensure that government ministers earn commissions by purchasing ships etc. to provide relief to Jaffna via the sea route.

Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle had taken offence to this highly inappropriate comment by a member of the SLMM and had stated that there is a perception that the SLMM is biased towards the LTTE. Helen Olafsdottir had stated that she is from Iceland and that there is no such bias and that this perception only exists in the South. Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle had stated that he is a Tamil and has relatives living in Jaffna who concurred with the view that the SLMM is biased towards the LTTE.

Ms Olafsdottir has also gone on record in stating that the "worsening security situation in Sri Lanka is second only to that of Iraq." It is not clear what part of her official responsibilities call for such comparisons and statements to be made.

She also went on record on a private TV channel soon after the Kadiraveli incident, even before facts were established to make a statement claiming that 50 had been killed and over 100 injured. Later it was established that 23 were killed. It is not clear as to what the motive of Ms Olafsdottir is in acting in this manner which is highly irresponsible and damaging to one party to the conflict.

More recently she had made a comment in a private newspaper that "the statement made by a UN official is correct and the SLMM in its second Geneva report stressed that we had sufficient evidence to prove that the government forces were involved in child recruitment."

The Sri Lankan state claims that it is unaware of such “evidence” being presented to the government at any stage, despite repeated requests made, even by the President.

In an interview to the "Nation" newspaper on last Sunday Helen Olafsdottir has dropped the word "evidence" and states that these matters were brought up and reported to the facilitator. There are serious inconsistencies in the determinations of the SLMM who were previously reluctant to pin blame on the LTTE for the lack of "evidence" claiming that the perpetrators were a "third party" now seem eager to allocate blame to the Sri Lankan state without producing "evidence" to support such serious allegations.

Ms Helen Olafsdottir’s comments are viewed as being irresponsible and mischievous, abusing the privileges conferred upon her in her position in the SLMM. Had she asserted such right to pass judgement about any other country hosting her, she would have been expelled long ago. Her role is not only a breach of faith and protocol, but also a provocation that will destroy the confidence that people have in the SLMM.

Perhaps this is part of a strategy to create a confrontation between the Government and the SLMM knowing very well that the LTTE stands to gain from such confrontation.

There is concern in Colombo that the SLMM spokespersons actions suggest complicity in a campaign to put the Sri Lankan state on the defensive, at a time when international pressure is mounting on the LTTE and the government is endeavouring to pressurise the LTTE into returning to the negotiating table without pre-conditions to discuss substantive issues.

- Asian Tribune -

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