The Web Sri Lanka In Focus

Monday, 14 April 2008

LTTE launches counselling services for traumatised students

Concerned over the fallout of psychological stress among students in LTTE-controlled areas due to the fighting, the rebels' outfit has launched a first ever counselling services in a school in northern Sri Lanka to help the students deal with their traumas.

"School students in war time in Wanni face many psychological traumas due to factors such as death of friends and relatives or fear of bomber planes flying overhead," the LTTE said in a statement on Monday.

The very first counseling service was conducted in the Kanakapuram MV school in Kilinochchi on last Tuesday, it said, adding the services will be available for the students during weekends and school holidays.

Such counseling services are being planned for all the schools in Wanni, the statement said.

The student counselling will help children face challenges of seeking safety in the "rudimentary" bunkers, shortages of educational equipment and facilities and economic hardships faced by their parents, it said.

"Students at Kanakapuram MV school have faced an aerial bombing just two months ago after which they scattered in panic as shrapnel from bombs fell inside their school and injured one of their school mates," the statement said.

"It is hoped that the counselling service inside the schools will help the students deal with their traumas without allowing it to affect their education and growth," it said.

Initially, one centre will be established in a school in an area which would serve all the schools in the locality.

Though one in each school is desirable given the psychological stresses faced by the students, problems of availability of skilled staff and other resources will limit these facilities at present, the statement said.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Zonal Education Office teacher advisor Murukesu said these centers will raise awareness among students about the psychological stresses that affects them thus enabling them to seek assistance.

Murukesu said these centres will come under the concerned schools as well as the villages that are served by the centres.

Source: expressindia

Lanka protests screening of pro-LTTE film in US

Sri Lanka has lodged a strong protest with the US over the screening of a pro-LTTE film My daughter the terrorist at a premier American film festival.

Sri Lankan Ambassador to United States Bernard Goonetilleke has lodged Colombo's strong protest over the screening of the film in a letter addressed to both the US State Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, media reports said.

The film, a documentary on the lives and faiths of two female Tamil Tigers produced by Norwegian filmmaker Beate Arnestad, was featured in a documentary film festival in Durham, North Carolina on April 4.

Earlier, the Sri Lanka embassy in Washington has urged the authorities of the US State Department and the FBI to take appropriate measures in preventing screening of the controversial film during the four-day festival.

The film is said to be a distortion of exploitation of the freedom of speech guaranteed by the First Amendment, an official statement said in Colombo.

"My daughter the terrorist" has audaciously portrayed a 12-year-old Tamil girl's path towards becoming a suicide bomber, trained and brain-washed by the LTTE terrorist movement, the release quoted sources from Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry as saying.

It goes on to say that the Norwegian producer Beate Arnestad had arrived in Sri Lanka during the Ceasefire Agreement period and entered Wanni "without the permission of the Foreign Ministry or any responsible state body for the filming of the movie".

"Sri Lankan expatriates from all over the US have risen in indignation and fury at the gross insensitivity of the organisers of the film festival," The release said.

Source: hindustantimes


WTM denies it is funding terrorism

Counterterrorism police in Quebec and Ontario effectively shut down a non-profit organization for Canadian Tamils this weekend due to allegations it has been raising money to finance terrorist activities in Sri Lanka.

The RCMP was expected to announce details of its unprecedented actions as early as today, but several sources said police had moved in to enforce a Federal Court restraining order against the World Tamil Movement.

The WTM's offices in Montreal and Toronto have been under police investigation for six years, and were raided by police in 2006. While no charges have yet resulted, the decision to seek a restraining order suggests Ottawa is aggressively pursuing the group.

The restraining order pertains to real estate in Montreal and other assets in Toronto.

The recent events are focused mostly on Montreal. Police sealed off the Montreal WTM office on Friday, said Steven Slimovitch, the group's lawyer. He said his clients were barred from entering the premises, disrupting community programs.

"A Federal Court judge has issued an order to seal the office of the World Tamil Movement and to essentially put it under the trusteeship of the federal government," he said.

The order was issued under a section of the Criminal Code dealing with terrorism financing, but Mr. Slimovitch said no defence counsel were present for the hearing and his clients deny the allegations they are financing terrorists.

"My clients have never been charged with terrorism-financing, and my clients have never had a chance to defend themselves against terrorism-financing accusations," he said.

The action is the latest development in two related RCMP-led investigations called Project Osaluki and Project Crible. The probes, by the Integrated National Security Enforcement Teams in Ontario and Quebec, are examining allegations the WTM has been funnelling money to the Tamil Tigers to finance civil war in Sri Lanka.

The Tamil Tigers are an outlawed terrorist group in Canada. Knowingly raising money for the group or financing its activities is against the law and punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Many members of Canada's large ethnic Tamil community support the Tigers and their fight to create an independent state for Sri Lanka's Tamil minority.

Police went to court last week to ask for restraining orders against WTM properties in Toronto and Montreal, said a source familiar with the case. Officers were in the process late yesterday of serving official notice to the people associated with the properties.

Police officers were having difficulty finding at least one per-son linked to the group and its properties. The RCMP was apparently waiting for that to take place before publicly announcing the moves it had taken.

This appears to be a first in the realm of terrorism, but the police action is similar to the way police routinely deal with organized crime: Officers will appear before a judge in private and present affidavits seeking judicial approval to restrain properties considered proceeds of crime.

While the property is restrained, the owner cannot sell it, move it, alter it or dispose of it. The order secures the property pending a court hearing. The owners are then notified and can appear before the courts and mount a defence against the Crown's allegations.

A judge will then decide whether the restrained property should be forfeited to the Crown or returned to its owner. The process is similar to how police restrain fortified clubhouses of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club and other bike gangs.

The weekend police action in Montreal has disrupted community activities scheduled for the group's headquarters in the city's Cote-des-Neiges district, Mr. Slimovitch said.

"Essentially they're shutting down the entire community -- artistic things, sporting things," he said. "My clients completely deny any terrorism financing. They support the Tamil people and they support the Tamil people's right to self-determination, but they are very much against any form of terrorism."

An official with the WTM Montreal office declined comment and referred all questions to Mr. Slimovitch. The lawyer said he intends to go to court to have the reasons for the order disclosed.

Corporal Elaine Lavergne of the RCMP said the police force could not comment as a result of the secrecy order.

"We are under the authority of a court," she said. She could not even disclose the level of court that issued the order, which she said is sealed from public view. "It has never happened before," she said of the sweeping secrecy provisions.

The president of the WTM's Ontario branch, Sitta Sittampalam, also declined to comment yesterday. "I was asked by my lawyer not to reveal anything on this matter," he said. "I'm not in a position to divulge anything."