The Web Sri Lanka In Focus

Thursday, 24 April 2008

Stop feud & work unitedly for rights: MK to Lanka Tamils

In a development that is certain to strain relations with Sri Lanka, Tamil Nadu chief minister M Karunanidhi on Wednesday call-ed upon Tamil revolutionaries in the neighbourhood to stop feuding and asserting the rights of Tamils in the island nation.

While moving a resolution calling for a proactive role by India to end the ethnic strife in the island republic, the chief minister told the state assembly that the revolutionaries are more involved in killing each other. “Had the groups fought together, they would have succeeded by now, like the case in Nepal,” the chief minister said.

Coming down heavily against the infighting among armed Tamil groups in Sri Lanka, Mr Karunanidhi, without naming them, said their violent approach “weakened the Tamil cause” as they were more “determined in eliminating each other.” To drive home this point, the chief minister talked about the assassination of the Tamil United Liberation Front leader Amrithalingam by rival group.

“The inter-group fighting had left many dead which actually weakened the cause of Tamils,” he said adding armed struggle had failed to yield fruit in Sri Lanka while such movements had succeeded in other parts of the world.

The chief minister’s ‘replicate Maoists’ success against the Nepal monarchy’ call to Tamil groups is certain to vitiate India’s relations with Sri Lanka. The willingness to factor in the Tamil Nadu allies’ sensitivities in the nation’s Lanka policy has been bringing in lot of distractions in the past few years.

The call to ‘Tamil revolutionaries’ comes at a time when Tamil groups are engaged in a full-scale war against the Lankan government. Even peace negotiators like Norway have been expressing frustration over the deteriorating situation in the island nation. The Lankan government is also under attack over choosing the military option to settle the crisis.

Source: indiatimes

Sri Lanka not worried about possible Indian intervention

The Sri Lankan government said Thursday it was not worried about the resolution passed by an Indian state to intervene in Sri Lanka's escalating conflict between the government and Tamil Tiger rebels.

Keheliya Rambukwella, the government's defense spokesman was reacting to a resolution adopted by the Indian state of Tamil Naducalling on the Indian central government to play a proactive role in Sri Lanka.

Rambukwella told reporters that Sri Lanka understands the political compulsions in neighboring India in getting drawn into action with regard to the conflict in the island, "but the Indian government stands supportive of our campaign to eliminate terrorism," Rambukwella said.

India's Tamil Nadu state assembly headed by its Chief Minister Muthuvel Karunanidhi adopted the resolution on Wednesday.

"India should arrange for talks between the two parties and help arrive at a political solution," the resolution said.

Tamil Nadu, the southern Indian state across Sri Lanka's northern border, is home to over 50 million Tamils with ties to Sri Lankan Tamil community.

On behalf of Sri Lanka's minority Tamils, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam has been fighting against the government since 1983to carve out a separate Tamil homeland in the north and east, resulting in the killing of 70,000 people.

India maintains a hands-off policy on the Sri Lankan conflict since the 1990s after a direct intervention in 1987.

Source: Xinhua

Global hunt for Tigers' assets

By Ajit Kumar Singh

A global onslaught against the international network of front organizations of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) coincides with the domestic reverses the rebels have suffered within Sri Lanka.

On Wednesday, the LTTE claimed it had killed 100 Sri Lankan soldiers in the nation's bloodiest battle in 18 months, while the military claimed more than 100 rebels died in the fighting, following pre-dawn fighting in the northern peninsula of Jaffna.

Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada, France and the United States, which account for the major chunk of the roughly 750,000-strong Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora, and from where the outfit

accrues its greatest financial and propaganda support, have taken stern action against LTTE proxies, severely affecting the Tigers' capacities in their "final war of liberation".

The LTTE, which opened its first overseas office in London in 1984, has front organizations in India, Botswana, Myanmar, Cambodia, Denmark, Germany, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Qatar, South Africa, Switzerland and Thailand, to name a few. The Washington Times on April 7 reported that the LTTE's political wing had established its branches in at least 12 countries, including the US. Veerakathy Manivannam aka Castro is the head of the LTTE's "international secretariat", the body which ensures the smooth functioning of the group's global network.

The LTTE's global activities can broadly be summarized into three principal categories: fundraising, arms procurement and shipping, and publicity and propaganda. Though each of these tasks invariably overlaps, there is a significant autonomy of operation in each.

The LTTE has created front organizations in about 50 countries across the globe, and most significant among these organizations include the Australasian Federation of Tamil Associations; the Swiss Federation of Tamil Associations; the French Federation of Tamil Associations; the Federation of Associations of Canadian Tamils; the Illankai Tamil Sangam in the US; the Tamil Coordinating Committee in Norway and the International Federation of Tamils in Britain.

These fronts also form sympathetic pressure groups and media units to harness political and economic support for the outfit from the politicians and human-rights activists in the respective countries. They bring out or operate numerous magazines, radio and TV stations; carry out public demonstrations, display LTTE flags and emblems as well as photographs of its leader Velupillai Prabhakaran and other leaders, sell and distribute literature glorifying the LTTE struggle and suicide attacks, and engage in publicity and propaganda among Tamil diaspora to harness support and contributions.

As the LTTE came under tremendous pressure at home, pro-LTTE Tamil groups in Britain launched a campaign to highlight the suffering of Tamils in Sri Lanka, with a protest outside the prime minister's residence and office at 20 Downing Street in London on February 24.

On January 16, Britain's leading Tamil organization, the British Tamils Forum, called for a boycott of Sri Lankan Airlines in a move to target the Sri Lankan economy, as part of their campaign for a separate Tamil homeland. On January 1, a calendar apparently depicting the logo of the LTTE and the map of a separate state of "Tamil Eelam" was sold outside Hindu temples in London. According to an August 22, 2007, report, Tamil broadcasters in Australia glorify the LTTE and its chief, Velupillai Prabhakaran, and also engage in fundraising.

The LTTE has secured the support of several non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working in these countries through its persistent publicity and propaganda campaigns. Prominent NGOs who have extended support include the Canadian Relief Organization for Peace in Sri Lanka, International Educational Development Inc, the World Council of Churches, the Australian Human Rights Foundation, the International Human Rights Group, the International Federation of Journalists (Pax Romana), the International Peace Bureau, the International Human Rights Law Group and the Robert F Kennedy Memorial Center for Human Rights.

These activities are, of course, subordinate to the principal objective of the "International Secretariat": to generate maximum financial resources to support the LTTE's "final war" in Sri Lanka. The LTTE is estimated to harvest between an estimated US$10 million to $30 million a month through organizations such as the Federation of Associations of Canadian Tamils, Human Rights for Tamils, Melrose Publishers, the Tamil Center for Human Rights, the Tamil Coordinating Committee, the Tamil Eelam Economic Development Organization, the Tamil Relief Organization (TRO), the Tamil Youth Organization, the United Tamil Organization, the White Pigeon, the World Tamil Movement, and the World Tamil Association, to name a few of the fronts engaged in these tasks.

These organizations collect funds from individuals and businesses; by managing Hindu temples principally serving Tamil diaspora communities; engaging in businesses including the Internet, community-based Tamil radio stations and subscription satellite TV, shipping lines, travel agencies; as well as fixed-income generation methods, such as the "registration" of the Tamil diaspora. According to a May 6, 2007, report, the Armulmihu Hindu temple in Tooting in south London, which reportedly raises nearly $1 million each year, may have possible links to the LTTE in Sri Lanka.

Through these global financial operations, the LTTE runs its arms network, headed by Tharmalingam Shanmugham aka Kumaran Pathmanathan aka KP, which acquire weaponry and munitions from countries like Afghanistan, Bulgaria, Myanmar, Cambodia, China, Cyprus, Greece, Hong Kong, Lebanon, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, South Africa, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, Vietnam and Zimbabwe.

KP is said to have bases in Bangkok, Yangon, Singapore and, more recently, in Johannesburg, South Africa, and is alleged to have held various bank accounts in Australia, Frankfurt and London. According to the August 29, 2007, US Senate Foreign Relations Committee Report, the government of Eritrea is providing direct military assistance to the LTTE. There is cumulative corroborative evidence confirming the fact that the arms network has spread across the globe.

Reports also indicate that the Tigers receive military training in some of these countries as well. One surprising source of such training was uncovered in August 2007, when the Sri Lankan government launched an investigation into claims that LTTE cadres received "police" training in Britain after the 2002 ceasefire agreement (CFA). The probe was ordered after revelations by a 29-year-old LTTE cadre, Kalimuttu Vinodkumar, who was arrested at a police roadblock in Trincomalee in Sri Lanka, who told interrogators he was among 12 LTTE cadres sent on a three-month training program to Northern Ireland, shortly after the CFA was signed. The course had been conducted by foreign instructors with the help of Tamil translators.

Over the years, the LTTE's international support network has ensured that the Tigers became the only officially listed terrorist organization with its own military - an army, navy and air force - and clear control over a large swathe of land.

Things, however, started to change after the declaration of the "war on terror" in the wake of the September 11, 2001, incidents in the US, with international attitudes hardening against the LTTE. Despite this, the 25-nation European Union only banned the LTTE in May 2006. Earlier, Canada proscribed the outfit on April 10, 2006. India was the first country to ban the LTTE in 1992. The LTTE is also on a list of proscribed terrorist organizations in the US, and is currently banned in as many as 31 countries.

The US Federal Bureau of Investigation went to the extent of describing the organization as one of the most dangerous and deadly extremist outfits in the world, as they had "inspired" networks worldwide, including al-Qaeda in Iraq. Corroborating linkages with al-Qaeda, a March 25, 2007, report indicated that the LTTE had supplied forged passports to Ramzi Yousef, who bombed the World Trade Center.

On March 10, 2007, Falk Rovik, chief spokesperson of Norwegians Against Terrorism, stated in Toronto that the LTTE had stolen hundreds of Norwegian passports and sold them to al-Qaeda to earn money. According to a July 7, 2007, report, Britain declared the LTTE the "second-most dangerous terrorist group" in the world, after al-Qaeda.

Nevertheless, the LTTE's international networks have suffered major reverses in the recent past, with many instances in which leaders and cadres of the LTTE or their front organizations have been arrested, sentenced to prison, or otherwise restrained, for a variety of subversive activities across the world. Some of the major incidents, in this context, include:

# April 11, 2008: Counterterrorism police in Quebec and Ontario in Canada reportedly shut down the World Tamil Movement (WTM) office in Montreal, alleging that the organization has been raising money to finance terrorist activities in Sri Lanka.
# January 10, 2008: A US District Court in Maryland sentenced Thirunavukarasu Varatharasa, a Sri Lankan resident in the US, to 57 months in prison and three years of supervised release, for conspiracy to provide arms, ammunition and other military materiel to the LTTE.
# October 21, 2007: The Royal Canadian Mounted Police's senior liaison officer for the Caribbean disclosed that more than 100 people, including key members of the LTTE, were arrested in the Caribbean with fraudulent travel documents, including Western passports forged with the aim of entering the US and Canada.
# September 25, 2007: French police arrested one Ranjan, who was appointed by the LTTE to take charge of LTTE activities in France after the arrest of Parithi aka Nadarajah Mathienthiram, who was earlier in charge of operations in this country.
# August 14, 2007: Three top LTTE suspects, Sujit Gunapala, Sasiljaran Teverajah and Satiepawan Arseawatap, were deported to Sri Lanka. Gunapala, Teverajah and Arseawatap were arrested from Ranong province in Thailand on May 12, 2003, with 10 Glock pistols and three HK Mark 23 pistols, and had remained under detention in Thailand for attempting to smuggle weapons to Sri Lanka.
# June 21, 2007: Arunachalam Chrishanthakumar alias Shanthan, president of the British Tamil Association and a high-ranking agent of the LTTE, and head of finance, Goldan Lambert, were arrested by British police under the 2000 Terrorism Act. Subsequently, on July 5, 2007, a British court froze all bank accounts belonging to Shanthan and wife, whose business ventures, as on July 2, 2007, amounted to $8 billion.
# May 17, 2007: The Maldives coast guard opened fire on and sank a small vessel carrying suspected LTTE cadres after a 12-hour standoff at sea in the southern territorial waters of Maldives. The boat was carrying guns and mortar ammunition.
# May 1, 2007: Australian police arrested two suspected LTTE cadres, Aruran Vinayagamoorthy (who had access to $526,000 in two bank accounts between August 2001 and December 2005) and Sivarajah Yathavan, after raids in Sydney and Melbourne.
# April 28, 2007: Six Sri Lankans, including the prime accused, Satrubarajah Shanamugarajah alias Ruby, connected to the LTTE, were convicted for organized crime in Norway.
# April 25, 2007: The "director" of the LTTE in New York, Karunakaran Kandasamy, was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in Queens, on charges of providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization. An FBI raid on Kandasamy's office in Queens revealed evidence that he had raised millions of dollars for the Tamil Tigers through a front organization called the World Tamil Coordinating Committee.
# April 1, 2007: The leader of the LTTE's France branch since 2003, Nadarajah Mathinthiran alias Parathi and Thuraisamy Jeyamorthy alias Jeya, who are in charge of fundraising in France, were among 17 LTTE suspects arrested. During 2006, the LTTE reportedly collected more than $10 million.
# March 8, 2007: Haji Subandi, an international arms dealer from Indonesia, pleaded guilty in a federal court in Guam to conspiring to export guns, surface-to-air missiles and other military hardware to the LTTE.
# August 30, 2006: Indonesian police arrested 13 LTTE suspects during a raid in the southern Java coast. The suspects were reportedly moving to Australia.
# August 22, 2006: 13 suspects with close links to the LTTE, including Waterloo Suresh aka Suresh Skandarajah, were arrested from Buffalo, New York, San Jose, California, Seattle, Washington and Connecticut, following a Canadian police and FBI probe into allegations that LTTE sympathizers in North America tried to buy missiles and move terror funds.
# April 16, 2006: Canadian police raided the office of the WTM in Montreal, the first raid after the Canadian government proscribed the LTTE as a terrorist group, and seized computers, files, LTTE flags and other political documents.

The latest crackdown appears to be part of an international operation aimed at neutralizing the LTTE's operations worldwide. However, proscribing the LTTE has tended to have only limited success, since the organization simply sets up new fronts that continue activities earlier carried out directly by LTTE offices, or by other fronts that come foul of the law.

Thus, after the TRO was banned in Britain, fund collection for the LTTE was undertaken by a charity named White Pigeon. Similarly, when the Washington-based Intelsat Ltd banned the National Television of Tamil Eelam, the official television of the LTTE, on April 21-22, 2007, the LTTE started its Paris-based Tamil Television Network, a pay television channel owned by Globecast, which was later shut down on May 3, 2007.

Even the limited successes against the LTTE's international operations in the recent past have had tremendous impact on LTTE capacities on the ground. Nevertheless, the LTTE's global network is far from defunct, and the intelligence communities in the many countries in which the Tamil rebels operate fronts will have to keep pace with the constant adaptation and inventiveness that remains a hallmark of the LTTE's operations, both domestically and abroad.

The Sri Lankan ambassador to the US, Bernard Goonetilleke, in a recent interview, noted that "a problem that is taking place 10,000 miles away from the coast of the US, is not a problem of Sri Lanka alone ... Terrorist groups feed on each other".

Ajit Kumar Singh, research assistant, Institute for Conflict Management.

Source: atimes

Lanka reacts defensively to TN assembly resolution

Sri Lanka has reacted defensively to the Tamil Nadu assembly's resolution calling upon the Government of India to get the Sri Lankan government and the Liberation Tigers Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to abandon the path of war and begin talks to resolve the ethnic conflict in the island.

"I do not wish to comment on the internal matters of a foreign government. But I would like to say that the Sri Lankan government has consistently worked towards finding a negotiated solution to the conflict in the island,” Foreign Secretary Dr. Palitha Kohona told this website’s newspaper here on Thursday. “President Rajapaksa has many times said that he is ready to go the extra mile to find a peaceful solution.”

"However, unfortunately, it is the LTTE which has consistently refused to come to the negotiating table," he added.

Kohona recalled that only recently, the LTTE had mercilessly murdered the Sri Lankan minister for highways, Jeyaraj Fernandopulle, showing scant regard for the fact that he was the father of two young children.

However, many Sri Lankans feel that Sri Lanka can do pretty much what it likes, regardless of the resolution. India, they say, has been little more than a windbag after the failure of its first, and last, intervention in the 1980s, which culminated in the withdrawal of the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) at the insistence of the Sri Lankan government in 1990, and in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi by the LTTE in 1991.

Since then, New Delhi's statements have been low-key, most of the time. If they have been strident at times, these have not been followed up by any concrete action.

An article entitled, "Indian diplomacy in Sri Lanka," by the veteran Sinhala-language journalist Upul Joseph Fernando in the Daily Mirror on Thursday reflected this thinking succinctly.

Given the changing political scenario in Tamil Nadu, the Sonia Gandhi-led regime in New Delhi might well ask the Mahinda Rajapaksa government in Colombo to stop the war and talk to the LTTE, and this request could be sent through the Indian High Commissioner, Alok Prasad, Fernando speculated.

But if Rajapaksa were to ask Prasad: "If I do not accept the Indian proposals, what would be the repercussions, as you visualize? Alok Prasad would not have any answer to give," Fernando pointed out.

"Today, the biggest problem India faces with regard to the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka is this inability of India to answer this question," he stressed.

Prasad would not be able to say that the LTTE would seek military help from Tamil Nadu, as Tamil Nadu had become vigilant against the LTTE, Fernando said. And he could not warn that the unity of Sri Lanka could come under threat because any such threat to Sri Lanka would be a threat to India too, he pointed out.

Fernando says that India has no teeth. It had "lost its dentures" during the misadventure of 1987 when it imposed the India-Sri Lanka Accord and then followed it up with the induction of the IPKF with disastrous results, he said.

According to Fernando, Rajapaksa knows that India cannot bite, and so, he does things pretty much as he pleases, while "petting" India with "deceiving talk," making full use of the Indian media.

Source: newindpress

No setback to anti-terror campaign in Sri Lanka

The Sri Lankan government said Thursday that a skirmish in the northern Jaffna peninsula which had left a large number of government troops dead was not a serious setback in the island nation's campaign to end terrorism.

"This was not a setback, not a debacle," Keheliya Rambukwella, the government's defense spokesman and the minister of Foreign Employment told reporters.

He was responding to clashes with Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) which had raged into a serious fight since Monday night and throughout Tuesday.

The government said 43 soldiers were killed and 33 were missing with 120 more injured in the battle at Muhamalai in the Jaffna peninsula.

Meanwhile, 81 rebels were killed and 196 others were injured inthe incident.

"They (rebels) came to attack the military defense line in order to move further into Jaffna," Rambukwella said, adding that "the Army repulsed the attack and are now occupying the LTTE first forward defense line."

However, the rebel casualty figures indicated much higher military casualties, with Tigers claiming they had killed over 100soldiers.

"Our goal of eliminating terrorism by the end of the year still remains," Rambukwella said.

Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara, the military spokesman said that the Army had consolidated its positions in Muhamalai after the clashes.

The government is engaged in its current campaign in the north to eliminate the rebels from the north by the end of the year. More than 7,000 people have died in the escalation of the conflict since the end of 2005.

Source: Xinhua