Eric the Viking: Deconstructing Solheim

Dr Susantha Goonatilake

Sri Lanka (Sinhala, pronounced in Tamil as Eelam) in our long history has had many visitors. Some were received enthusiastically others thrust themselves unwelcome on us.

In the category of the unwanted guests were various invaders, especially the marauding Portuguese, and less so the Dutch and British. The last invasion was the Indian experiment on destabilizing the country, presumably now abandoned.

We now have a visitor Eric Solheim from a small far away country Norway. Both our leading parties have embraced him as a savior as have separatists of all hues, specially the LTTE. This list includes presumed ex separatists like the TULF, and EPDP and TELO the latter two equally adept at handling guns and ensuring their "election".

Our leaders, or for that matter our media, have said very little about this man Solheim. Is he a man of simple good will? Or is he a new missionary to convert and subvert our country, as did earlier westerners? Is he as the Portuguese put it for the "spiritual and temporal conquest" of our country? Eric the pirate? In other words, is he a Western buccaneer in a priest's cassock. In those bad days of the Portuguese, there was no difference between the two.

"Deconstructing Solheim"

Searching for Solheim's name on the Internet gives many entries. (Surprising though, less entries than when I put "Goonatilake".) The entries unfortunately, are in Norwegian and my smattering of the language picked up when I taught in a Norwegian university was insufficient. I got a full-blooded Norwegian native to translate.

One prominent series of Internet sites had the title "Deconstructing Erik Solheim". These were unsavory exposures of the man that I asked my native guide to skip. I asked him to concentrate on the more respectable sites such as newspaper reports.

And these public reports say some very interesting things about our savior.

He belongs to the small Sosialistik Venstreparti ("Socialist Left Party"). He admits that his party together with other parties inflates the number of its members, so as to get extra subsidies from the government. This would be like a public servant in Sri Lanka planting higher figures in a travel claim to illegally get extra money. This is an act that in Sri Lanka will bring in punishment, including dismissal. Solheim's expertise in manipulating figures would undoubtedly qualify him as an ideal election watcher in a future election. The LTTE under his guidance should then win even in Hambantota.

Solheim has supported the bombing of Serbia by NATO to help eliminate the dictator llllll guilty among others of ethnic cleansing. He advocates a far more severe military solution for Serbia than Sri Lanka has adopted in its civil war. But lll's cruelties do not match those of Prbahakaran. No attacks on ancient religious institutions, no terrorist bombings like those of the Central Bank, no recruitment of child soldiers and no use of suicide bombers. But Solheim wants the elimination of lll, while he embraces Prabhakaran in the jungle.

Solheim has also publicly called former American Secretary of State Kissinger a terrorist for his actions in Chile and Vietnam. Solheim says Kissinger should be charged as a war criminal at The Hague. But Kissinger's role in Chile led to the death of only a few in comparison with the larger number of deaths due to Prabhakaran. Prabhakaran was guilty of far more horrendous crimes than Pinochet's Chile.

Solheim instead should be suing the LTTE for two easily provable crimes against humanity. They are the ethnic cleansing of Jaffna of all Muslims and Sinhalese and the killing of the 600 policemen who surrendered to them as well as the killing of all the armed personnel at Mullativu. In addition, the Australian wife of Balasingham by recruiting child soldiers is guilty of child abuse. Crimes against humanity have no statute of limitations. They can also be pursued in third countries like Norway, witness the case of the Chilean dictator Pinochet. Solheim is said to be concerned about the spread of a racist party in Norway and wants to isolate it. But in Sri Lanka he befriends the most racist party, the LTTE.

Solheim bemoans that membership of political parties is coming down in Norway and that this is bad for democracy. But in Sri Lanka his government supports blatant brain washing of our population to believe in separatist falsehoods with his government's NGO money. This is a sneaky attack against both truth as well as democracy. When the journalist Frederica Janz was dismissed from the Norwegian sponsored International Alert (IA) for telling the truth on Tiger fund raising in Norway, the pressure for her dismissal, had come from not only the LTTE but also the Norwegian government. Transparency is apparently only for Norwegians. Only fiction is good for us. The result is that a tin pot country like Norway now arrogates to itself imperial ambitions.

Solheim has also been against Norway joining the European Union (EU). He campaigned heavily against Norwegian entry when a referendum was held on it. But the EU today backs this political enemy of the European Union in his intervention in Sri Lanka. They consider him their representative. Apparently it is not his ideas that count for EU support but like the colonialists of yore, him being European. Europe uber alles, Hitler might have echoed.

But the real window to his mind is his recent autobiography. It gives an insight into this modern neocolonialist. The Norwegian embassy should translate this book into Sinhalese. It is the biggest aid they can give us.

This book describes his escapades with pretty girls on his trips to Czechoslovakia. But these are his private doings and should not concern us. But more interestingly he says, he used his own children in the media as part of his political image building. This is a contrast to politicians like Clinton who have gone to great efforts to hide their children from the public eye. But his use of his own family for profit does not stop there. He has had a divorce, again his private affair. But he had sold sordid details of his divorce to the gutter press for money. In Sri Lanka, the practice of the sensationalist press does not exist. So Sri Lankans might not fully understand this act of prostitution.

But his misuse of others extends beyond his immediate family. His fellow parliamentarians and his own party men have reacted angrily to the one-sided distortions in his book. Members of his own party wanted the party chairman to correct his distortions. The Chairman diplomatically refused to comment. This book's severe failings, it was suggested would prevent him getting nominated for parliament again.

What a convenient time, one would say, for Solheim to announce that he will not be going for reelection as he has done, and say that he will now devote his life to Sri Lanka's problem. This man who has misused his own children, makes money out of his divorce, lies about his own party members and is mistrusted by them is now to be entrusted with our future.

Some development in Sri Lanka has been helped by aid that Norway has given, say in places like Hambantota. But Norway has also hindered development by supporting the enemy. Money that could go into productive development has been diverted to destruction of lives and property. This is the direct result of Norwegian sponsorship of the LTTE. They gave artificial life both literally and metaphorically to the LTTE.

They gave a new kidney to the secretly smuggled out Anton Balasingham, the Tiger theoretician. The latter's wife is an Australian nurse. Against all nursing norms, she became like one of the death doctors of Nazi Germany. She trained Tiger women and little children as suicide cadres. Her deeds are documented in LTTE propaganda films as well as in the British newspaper The Independent. With Solheim's peace talks, he has also given artificial oxygen to a dying group. Instead of giving us arms to militarily crush a dictator far more ruthless than Serbia's, his actions give the Tigers extra life.

The Norwegian constitution demands that all its officials know the Norwegian language, forbid their citizens to change their religion from Lutheranism and its government restricts the economic rights of the Saami people. Sri Lanka has no equivalent for these discriminatory acts. But now Norway wants to interfere in our country. For our good they say, in their missionary zeal. "White man, he talk with forked tongue".

Missionaries have come on other occasions to our country with alleged good hearts. The excuse was the supposed betterment of humanity. But this was the same motivation of Quisling, Hitler and Stalin. So was the Pope's motivation when he divided the world in 1492 and allowed for the genocidal crimes of the Spanish and the Portuguese.

In the two World Wars, there were signs everywhere in Western countries to look out for spies and to be careful of what they might hear. There are many Norwegians working in the country, many in the aid business. Some of them genuinely love this country. But in their misguided goodness, they might be working for the enemy; in the same manner that old missionaries were trying to "help" us by supporting the Portuguese, Dutch and the British conquests. Till this war is won, every Norwegian has to be seen as a potential spy. We must treat them politely, but look at them with suspicion. As suspiciously as we should look at the latter day Viking interloper, Eric Solheim.



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