NORWEGIAN GOVERNMENT IN TROUBLE OVER ITS VANUNU STANCE
From Fredrik S. Heffermehl,
Oslo, April 21, 2005
We are in the midst of a media storm against the government for not taking Israel to task on their treatment of Vanunu. There have been full front pages and small front pages and full pages, even double pages inside. Not just one day, but consecutive days. All VERY sympathetic to Mordechai and very critical of the cowardly government, which decided not to invite Mordechai. In the TV news there have been several interviews and the cabinet minister in charge of immigration (and conservative party leader) has been heavily critizised for her refusal to invite Mordechai to Norway.
Following this rejection PEN Norway has adopted Mordechai as persecuted writer and seen to it that Kristiansand (on the south tip of Norway) has invited M as the city´s guest for a two year period to have freedom to write. The writers invited under this program get a permanent permit to stay in Norway after the fully paid-up term of two years is over.
Two party leaders have critizised the refusal to invite Vanunu. Parliamentarians are asking questions of the relevant Ministers. Many political actors have initiated heavy lobbying behind the scenes to stimulate the political opposition - and hopes are that we do not have to wait for a new government in October, - even the present government may decide to take action for Vanunu.
Newspapers have interviewed Vanunu, sending journalists to Israel to interview him. In addition Vanunu has been giving several radio interviews which then have become the basis for discussions, direct on air. We have good hopes that the surge of sympathy is not a passing phenomenon. There is no doubt - the Vanunu case has become national politics in Norway.
I move between studios and chief editors and have my articles published in major papers all around the country - and best of all, there are two publishing houses competing for the contract to publish a small book with thoughts of Vanunu.
I would say that almost two decades of Israeli persecution of Vanunu has ended up making him a leading household name here. So Mr. Horev (the Israeli Hoover, J. Edgar) may have a lot of power still - but his main success is to help the opposition against Israeli nuclear weapons, in Norway and the world.
APRIL 21 2005 IN OSLO
The first anniversary of Mordechai´s release from prison was marked at the Israeli embassy in Oslo (MARKED, not celebrated, since his freedom is still limited. But we are all happy about the improved size of his prison cell).
On an excellent spring day we were three times the permitted number of demonstrators. Speakers were Ole Bøckman of No to Nuclear Arms (Norwegian CND) and Fredrik S. Heffermehl. Below is a short press release.
Vanunu friends demonstrating against Israel
"-- A friend does not abstain from helpful criticism. When we demonstrate here today, it is to help protect Israel against a self-inflicted Holocaust - and against hurting its reputation through continued atrocious treatment of Mordechai Vanunu, transgressions against a political dissident that so gross that there is no match anywhere in the presumed civilized world. This was stated by Fredrik S. Heffermehl of the international Vanunu-committe in an appeal outside the Israeli embassy in Oslo one year on the day after the release from prison of the Israeli nuclear whistleblower, Vanunu."
Heffermehl made a strong appeal to the Norwegian government to act as true friends of Israel, support Vanunu in his struggle against nuclear weapons and demand that he is given his full freedom. " We who are gathered here also act as friends of Israel when we appeal to Israel to reconsider her nuclear policies and end the grossly illegal and unjust treatment of Vanunu", Mr. Heffermehl, a Vice President of the International Peace Bureau, said.
* Fredrik S. HEFFERMEHL *
* N. Juels g. 28 A, N-0272 Oslo, Norway *
* E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org *