Embassy break-in sparks rebuke, protests continue over Sri Lanka

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Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre lashed out at Tamil protestors in Oslo, after a group broke into Sri Lanka’s embassy over the long Easter weekend. Tamils in Norway are suspected of vandalizing the embassy, and many continued noisy protests in front of Norwegian government offices on Monday.

Both Støre and the Norwegian government minister in charge of foreign aid, Erik Solheim, were angered by the break-in at the Sri Lankan embassy in Oslo on Sunday. Both called it “illegal” and “completely unacceptable,” while Norway’s government – technically responsible for security at local embassies – has issued an apology to the Sri Lankan government.

The break-in followed days of protests by Tamils living in Norway who are demanding that Norway in turn demand a ceasefire between Tamils and government forces in Sri Lanka. Norway has been active in trying to broker peace between the Sri Lankan government and the separatist Tamil Tigers. Solheim served for several years as the United Nations’ special envoy to the troubled area.Sri Lanka’s ambassador in Norway has criticized Norwegian police for failing to provide adequate security at the country’s embassy, and Sri Lanka’s foreign minister has complained to Norway’s ambassador in Sri Lanka. Norway’s foreign ministry has ordered the Norwegian police to boost security at the embassy in Oslo.

Tamil protesters demonstrated in front of the Norwegian Parliament for several days last week, moving on to attack the embassy’s downtown location on Sunday. Hundreds of protesters also surrounded the official residence of Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg in Oslo on Saturday, and marched from downtown to the US Embassy in Oslo.

They want the Norwegian government to take a more active role in stopping what’s developed into a war between Tamil and government forces in Sri Lanka. Norwegian officials have responded that there’s a limit to what Norway can do, when both sides in the conflict have resorted to war, while also limiting access to humanitarian relief efforts.

A ceasefire was called, however, for both Monday and Tuesday when both the Tamils and Singhalese on Sri Lanka were to celebrate New Year. The Sri Lankan government, meanwhile, has said it no longer wants any Norwegian intervention in resolving the conflict with the Tamil Tigers.