The VoTgate scandal
two main opposition parties, the Sri Lanka Freedom Party and the JVP
have already voiced their protest over the role played by Norway in
the country's peace process. In a statement issued last month, the
SLFP questioned their impartiality. The JVP has now called for the
deportation of Norwegian Ambassador Jon Westborg for the role played
by his embassy in the importation of radio equipment for the Voice
The VoT is
no longer a clandestine radio with the government of Sri Lanka giving
it a radio frequency to operate in fact, a frequency only second
to SLBC. But the entire story of the importation of radio equipment
for the LTTE - and as our front page story points out, equipment
not necessarily used for ordinary radio transmissions -- under such
mysterious and secretive circumstances, warrants at least statements
from both the Government of Sri Lanka, and the Royal Norwegian Government
respectively, in the first instance.
first took up the position that there is no customs duty that is
payable because it's diplomatic Cargo, but when it appeared that
the media latched on to the story and exposed it, the PM's office
overruled itself saying that the LTTE must pay the duty that is
Protocol - or the Vienna Convention prescribe guidelines for the
conduct of diplomats worldwide, and under this Convention any cargo
that is imported by an embassy serving in another sovereign country
must be for the exclusive use of that embassy and no other.
This is the
reason why it is common to see diplomats all over the world sometimes
being rapped or even being deported, for selling duty free whisky
or smuggling gold via the diplomatic pouch.
It is the Vienna
Convention that determines the grounds on which diplomats could
be expelled for espionage, and for working against the interests
of the host country and its people.
silence on the part of the Norwegians, who obviously cannot deny
that they were the consignees of this radio equipment that was delivered
to the LTTE, makes them prima facie culpable for violating the Vienna
take up the position that the Government of Sri Lanka required them
to import the equipment, because there is no case for one sovereign
state to collaborate with another sovereign state to break international
Jon Westborg will not be declared Persona non Grata despite the
fact that he has qualified himself for such a declaration through
conduct unbecoming of a diplomat under the Vienna Convention, he
is responsible for causing his country's credibility which is already
under scrutiny, to come down further in the eyes of a fair section
of the Sri Lankan public.
As for the
Government of Sri Lanka, and the international community, this is
an ignominy that cannot be lived down. One would have thought that
the Government of Sri Lanka would have learnt its lessons, after
the bitter experiences learnt from President Premadasa's act of
giving arms to the LTTE.
When, if at
all, will the Government and the international community open its
eyes to last week's LTTE arms shipment to the East coast, the incidents
against the EPDP in the Delft, the killing of a Long Range Reconnaissance
Patrol informant in Wellawatte last week, the indecent hurry that
has been displayed in scaling down the presence of the Army in Jaffna,
and a host of other activities over this last year which are entirely
inconsistent with Anton Balasingham's professed statements on the
peace circuit for public consumption.
Is it not reasonable
for the peace loving people of this country to ask "Isn't there
already a gaping hole in the so-called international safety net"
that was said to have guarantees against the LTTE stepping out of