Jon Hanssen Bauer, the Norwegian special envoy for the peace process in Sri Lanka, on Saturday paid tributes to Liberation Tigers Political Head and Chief Negotiator S. P. Thamilchelvan.
Stating that Mr. Thamilchelvan’s role was important not only for Norway, but also for other countries, Mr. Bauer said Thamilchelvan was a patient man in explaining the rightful demands of Tamils and he was a moderate person within the LTTE, one who sought political alternatives.
The Norwegian Special Envoy was addressing a memorial gathering at the Tamil Resource and Counseling Centre in Oslo on Saturday, which was attended by the representatives of the Norwegian political parties, Norwegian academics engaged in Sri Lankan studies and a large number of the members of the Tamil diaspora.
Translation of Hanssen Bauer’s address follows:
“We received the very sad news yesterday that S. P. Thamilchelvan has been killed in the suburb of Ki’linochchi. Anpumani or Alex whom we knew in the facilitation of the negotiation process was also among those who were killed.
“Thamilchelvan was the leader of the Liberation Tigers Politica Wing. He took part in all negotiation meetings in the peace process in 2002 and 2003, next in line of Anton Balasingam. Nearly for ten years he played a central role in the endeavavors to find a political and peaceful solution to the Sri Lankan conflict.
“He led the negotiations on the Joint Mechanism to channel support to the Tusnami victims and for the reconstruction following the tragic catastrophe.
“Last year, he took part in negotiations in Geneva in February where he was the Chief Negotiator when Anton Balasingam became ill.
“In all my visits to Sri Lanka and in my meetings with the visiting LTTE delegation, it was Thamilchelvan who received me. He received all the other envoys in the same way, although he was a busy man in his position as the political head of the LTTE.
“Over the years, he became LTTE’s smiling face to the outside world, the most important channel, not only for Norway, but also for many other countries. In fact, he was the important link we had towards the LTTE.
“His role was important for our understanding of the politics, point of view and analysis of the Tigers. He was a patient man in explaining the rightful demands of Tamils.
“In the many and long conversations, I had with him, I gained the impression that he was a pleasant man of intelligence, patience and moderate outlook.
“He was extremely well formulated in his descriptive responses which were elegantly interpreted and conveyed to us by Mr. George. He impressed me as a person who was hopeful and was willing to find ways ahead, even in such situations in which things seemed impossible to others.
“He never expressed anger or bitterness. He could only show a weak irritation on occasions when I insisted too much. We both knew that we were doing our jobs within our mandates.
“I had the impression that whenever he was unable to meet the wishes put forward by Norway, he expressed regret and tried to find out an alternative way. As you could expect from a responsible negotiator, he was ready with the willingness to compromise.
“He was a moderate person within the LTTE, one who sought political alternatives. When he led the delegation to Geneva last year in October, he already evolved to the level of filling the gap created by the absence of Anton Balasingam.
“The only area I noticed which he was not capable of compromising was his commitment of sacrificing himself to the cause of Tamils.
“Within a year, both Anton Balasingam and Thamilchelvan have passed away. We have lost the two leaders of the delegation who have played crucial roles.
“They have left behind a big vaccum at a very critical juncture of the Sri Lankan process. Thamilchelvan’s demise is a big loss for all of us.
“The only way to honour him is to find a political solution to the conflict in Sri Lanka. Far too many have died; many children have lost their parents and many have lost their sisters and brothers.
“Our deepest sympathies go to all the victims. Especially today, our sympathies go to the families of Thamilchelvan and his colleagues who were killed in this terrible air attack of yesterday.
“Peace shall shine on their memories.”