The VoTgate scandal
The 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 Tigers (VoT).

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.

The Government 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 due.

The Vienna 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.

The stunning 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 Convention.

They cannot 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 law.

Even though 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 line.

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