Former Norwegian minister calls for probe in Sri Lanka

COLOMBO, Aug. 12 (Xinhua) -- A former Norwegian minister who once played a key role in brokering peace between the Sri Lankan government and Tamil Tiger rebels on Monday called for an international investigation into alleged human rights abuses in Sri Lanka.

Erik Solheim, a former minister of International Development, told Xinhua in an email that the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, who is scheduled to visit Sri Lanka this month, should pass on a strong message to the Sri Lankan government. "Tens of thousands of humans perished in the last phase of the Sri Lankan war. Time has long passed when the international community will close its eyes and allow impunity for alleged war crimes. As long as there is no credible domestic process in Sri Lanka, the international community should start an international enquiry," he said.

Solheim mediated between the government and the Tamil Tiger rebels before fighting broke out again in 2006, resulting in the rebels being eventually defeated in May 2009.

Most hardline Sinhalese political parties in Sri Lanka have seen Solheim as a staunch supporter of the Tamil Tigers, an allegation the former Norwegian minister denied. He said that the huge Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora can play a key post war role on Sri Lanka which includes fighting for legitimate political rights for the minority Tamils.

"The diaspora should come together on a platform of nonviolent struggle under the leadership of Tamils resident in Sri Lanka. They should reach out to Muslims, Singhalese and others to restore democracy and promote economic and social progress," he said.

With just over four years gone since the war ended in Sri Lanka, Solheim said there can be no excuse to delay the restoration of democracy in the island nation.