( Tamil Diaspora is spread around the world)
By P.K.Balachandran | Express News Service.
COLOMBO: By a gazette extraordinary issued on Friday, the Sri Lankan government lifted the ban on several outfits and individuals previously thought to have been working for the LTTE.
On March 21, 2014, 16 organizations and 424 individuals were proscribed under the UN Act No: 45 of 1968. But the latest gazette notification bans only eight organizations and 155 individuals.
The de-listed organizations are: Global Tamil Forum (GTF); British Tamil Forum (BTF); National Council of Canadian Tamils (NCCT); Tamil Youth Organization (TYO); World Tamil Coordinating Committee (WTCC); Canadian Tamil Congress (CTC); Australian Tamil Congress (ATC); Tamil National Council (TNC).
Organizations which are still banned are: the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE); Tamil Rehabilitation Organization (TRO); Tamil Coordinating Committee (TCC); World Tamil Movement (WTM); Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam (TGTE); Tamil Eelam Peoples’ Assembly (TEPA); World Tamils’ Relief Fund (WTRF) and Headquarters Group (HQG).
Rationale for De-listing
Enunciating the Sririsena government’s policy on proscriptions, Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera had said in parliament on March 18: “Reviewing this list of individuals and entities is an important exercise at this juncture when the government of President Sirisena is seriously committed to expediting the reconciliation process.”.
The initial proscription by the Rajapaksa government was done in haste, and was not subject to a rigorous process of assessment and verification, the Minister pointed out.
“It was done to build up hysteria about LTTE regrouping. There was hardly any tangible evidence to link them to the LTTE. Some of those sought had died,” he said.
The present government’ calculation is that Lankan law enforcement and intelligence agencies will now be able to target their resources more accurately and purposefully. The government is legally committed to reviewing the list annually and the expectation is that organizations and individuals who publicly abjure separatism and violence will be de-listed.
Canada accounts for the single largest number of wanted persons. 22 of the wanted are in Canada. Denmark comes second with 17; Sri Lanka 14; UK and the Netherlands account for 12 each; France 11; Germany 8; India 7; Italy 4; Malaysia 3; Norway 2; US, 1 and Thailand 1. The wanted man in the US is Visuvanathan Rudrakumaran, head of the Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam (TNGTE). Interpol Red Notices stand against 26. The two Sinhalese among the wanted are Gunaratna Bandula Gajaweera of Akkaraipattu and A.Chaminda Darshana of Trincomalee. The latter is believed to be in India.
Apart from Gajaweera, others believed to be hiding in India are: Sivaganasundaram Sivakaran; Aganila alias Gemini; Amuthan; Suresh alias Kapil Msater; Rajendran Murthy; Velupillai Revathan; Vigneswaran Parameswari.
Timing of Gazette
It is significant that the Gazette notification de-listing half of the proscribed organizations and 63 percent of the proscribed individuals, was issued a day ahead of the visit to Colombo of Samantha Power, the US Permanent Representative in the UN in New York, an expert on genocide and an advisor to President Barack Obama.
(Original Caption: Lanka Lifts Ban On Several Allegedly Pro-LTTE Outfits And Individuals)
Eight diaspora groups, 269 people deproscribed
Eight diaspora organisations and more than 260 people who were listed under a blanket proscription last year for their alleged links with Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) have been deproscribed by the Government, according to a Gazette notification.
The new Gazette notification, issued on Friday further to a March 2014 gazette notification that declared the proscription of 16 diaspora organisations and 424 individuals, revokes the ban on eight organisations. The delisted groups are the British Tamil Forum (BTF), the Canadian Tamil Congress (CTC), the Australian Tamil Congress (ATC), the Global Tamil Forum (GTF), the National Council of Eelam Tamils (NCET), the Tamil National Council (TNC), the Tamil Youth Organisation (TYO) and the World Tamil Coordinating Committee (WTCC).
The list also lifts the proscription on 269 individuals, most of whom are are based in North America and Europe.Justifying the continuation of the proscription on the other eight organisations and 155 people, the new gazette notification said that despite the military defeat of the LTTE in the country, its front organisations and structures continue to remain active overseas promoting the LTTE’s ideology of creating a mono-ethnic separate state of Tamil Eelam through terrorist means.
The Gazette notification also mentions “three clear attempts” by the LTTE between 2012 and 2014 to resurrect its separatist activities within the country with assistance from pro-LTTE groups operating overseas. Among the groups that will remain proscribed is the Tamil Rehabilitation organisation (TRO), which together with seven other groups, is seen as a threat to national security.
The ban will also apply to the TRO Sri Lanka, TRO branches in other countries, the Tamil Coordinating Committee in Paris, the World Tamil Movement based in Ottawa and the Transnational Government of Tamil Elam as they are involved in terrorism financing and terrorism-related activities.
Also banned are Tamil Eelam People Assembly, the World Tamil Relief fund and the Headquarters Group also known as HQ Group. Defence Secretary Karunasena Hettiarachchi told the Sunday Times the decision to delist those organisations and the individuals was taken after serious evaluation of their past and present records by the Defense ministry, Foreign Affairs ministry, state intelligence agencies, and ministerial offices dealing with reconciliation.
“After a careful and comprehensive study, those security apparatus recommended that they be deproscribed. In fact some of them were not involved in any terrorist activities in the past. It is unreasonable to keep them on that list,” the Secretary said. “The ban on the remaining organisations will be reviewed later after further study.” Describing the Government’s decision as step towards reconciliation, Mr Hettiarachchi said the process could not be a one way dialogue.
“I think we have to approach reconciliation in many ways. We have started the process of returning the lands acquired by the security forces to the rightful owners. We are also developing the former war-torn areas aimed at an economic resurgence that could create many job opportunities. That is the way forward,” he said.
The Defence Secretary said the delisted organisations could function within the country freely but they have to respect the law of this country. “There can be no space for extremism or terrorist activities.”
The Foreign Ministry in a statement issued yesterday said the review process concluded that there was no intelligence or evidence that these eight organisations and 267 persons continue to espouse separatism to justify the continuation of the ban. Soon after the new government took office in January, it expressed its willingness to work with moderate diaspora organisations such as the GTF headed by Rev. S.J. Emmanuel.
The GTF is the largest Tamil diaspora organisation with members spread all over the world. It was founded following the end of the war in 2009. The organization is continuing to advocate a non-violent agenda and seeks a lasting peace in Sri Lanka based on justice, reconciliation and a negotiated political settlement for national question.
Earlier, Rev. Emmanuel said that to promote reconciliation, he would visit Sri Lanka following an invitation extended by President Maithripala Sirisena when he was in London. Meanwhile Immigration and Emigration Controller M. N. Ranasinghe said his office was yet to be informed officially about the deproscription.
“It should be notified through the proper ministerial channels before we delist them. Still we have not been informed about the recent Gazette notification,” he said.