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‘Northern Sri Lanka is at peace’ claims Solheim on return to Jaffna

Former Norwegian peace envoy Erik Solheim stirred criticism after he claimed “Northern Sri Lanka is at peace,” after he returned to the Tamil homeland for the first time in 20 years.

“This is first time I am back to Jaffna and Kilinochchi,” tweeted Solhiem. “Northern Sri Lanka is at peace and that is wonderful. Security is good. Noone want to go back to the war days (sic).”

His remarks sparked criticism with the former chairperson of Sri Lanka’s Human Rights Commission Ambika Satkunanathan tweeting, "Northern Sri Lanka is heavily militarized, security agencies surveil, harass and intimidate civil society, dissenters and media, causing anxiety and stress to these groups."

Solheim went on to state that “many Tamil aspirations are yet to be fulfilled”.

“Thousands of families still dont know what happend to their loved ones who disapperead during the war. Land is not fully restored to old owners. Disputes over historic religious sites and temples must find peaceful settlement. Nothern Sri Lanka needs jobs and prosperity. The Sri Lankan state will have to devolve power (sic).”

He went on to tweet photographs of meetings with officials including ITAK leader S Shritharan.

Speaking after a tour of a seafood production factory at Allaipiddy, Solheim said he had come to “investigate the economic and social environment of Jaffna”.

“If the ethnic problem in Sri Lanka is to be resolved everyone should work together without differentiating between Sinhalese, Tamils, and Muslims,” he added, yet also went on to claim that the 13th Amendment would solve many of the ethnic issues in Sri Lanka. Powers should be shared among the provinces, Solheim concluded.

Solheim is a close acquaintance of Sri Lanka’s President Ranil Wickremesinghe, who appointed Solheim as his International Climate Advisor. Solheim hailed Wickremesinghe for his “great vision for green economic recovery” and claimed he pulled off "a political miracle in Sri Lanka".

During Solheim’s last visit to Sri Lanka, he asserted that there is no need for “third party mediation” as the issues raised by Tamil can be solved domestically, despite repeated Tamil calls for international intervention.

The Norwegian also met the hardline Rajapaksa clam at  the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) headquarters in Sri Lanka. Solheim tweeted photographs of himself alongside Basil Rajapaksa and Namal Rajapaksa.

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