Sri Lankan-origin Norwegian MP rejects boycott call, prefers engagement with Sri Lanka

Kamzy Gunaratnam, a Sri Lankan origin MP in Norway, who recently won her election from the Labour Party, said that she would ask the new Norwegian government to continue engagement with Sri Lanka amid growing calls from some quarters to boycott engagement with the South Asian nation

Sep 27, 2021
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Kamzy Gunaratnam, a Sri Lankan origin MP in Norway

Kamzy Gunaratnam, a Sri Lankan origin MP in Norway, who recently won her election from the Labour Party, said that she would ask the new Norwegian government to continue engagement with Sri Lanka amid growing calls from some quarters to boycott engagement with the South Asian nation. 

Jaffna born Gunaratnam, addressing a virtual press conference on Sunday, said that she did not believe that boycotting Sri Lanka is the way forward. “There need to be investments. Only that will ensure employment,” she was quoted as saying by Daily Mirror. However, the MP added she wanted war crime investigations to continue.

Sri Lanka under President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, a Sinhala Buddhist who assumed office in 2019, has been accused of reversing whatever little progress the country had made on transitional justice to war victims and reconciliation with ethnic Tamil.

Rajapaksa, who is considered a Sinhala nationalist, promoted many armed forces officers who are accused of serious war crimes during the country’s three-decade-long brutal civil war that ended in 2009.

In her press conference on Sunday, Gunaratnam said that she is also prepared to meet President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, if invited, for talks. Significantly, last week, Rajapaksa has also said that he was ready to invite the Tamil diaspora for talks. 

Describing her approach, the newly elected MP said Norway must continue to assist Sri Lanka through trade, education, and other ways. She further added that she will also discuss the issue with her party and the new Norwegian Foreign Minister, as well as the Norwegian Ambassador in Sri Lanka, and see how best Norway can assist Sri Lanka.

Calls for punitive measures for Sri Lanka have grown recently as the government fails to satisfy western countries and the UN’s rights body about measures to fix accountability issues.   

On war crime investigations, Gunaratnam said there cannot be closure without proper inquiries by external mechanism and not internal--something Colombo has been resisted fiercely. The island nation, she said, should not wait for any foreign country to force it for a solution and minorities should be protected. 

(SAM)