LTTE attempts to get UK proscription lifted | Sunday Observer

LTTE attempts to get UK proscription lifted

1 November, 2020

The recent attempts by the LTTE remnants, to get the once-most-feared terror outfit off the UK’s proscribed organisations list is not the first attempt by the LTTE.

With the proscription of the LTTE in the EU and elsewhere the group lost millions of dollars worth of assets raised in those countries to fuel a bloody conflict back in Sri Lanka.

These assets remain frozen to date, including within the EU.

The brutal conflict waged by the LTTE for nearly a quarter century ended in 2009 with the government forces militarily defeating the terrorists. While some LTTE leaders perished in the battle some escaped to the West via India, Malaysia, Thailand and other countries, according to already reported content.

With their clandestine activities the ideology of the terror outfit, to carve out a separate state in Sri Lanka, lives on, the Government has conveyed this to the international community while emphasising the dangers of delisting the LTTE, every time the matter is raised during periodical renewals of the proscription.

Ban

LTTE is still banned in 30 countries including the US, UK and Canada.

In October 2014, the European Court of Justice annulled the EU Council measures to maintain the LTTE under its list of terrorist organisations. This meant the LTTE members and sympathisers, stood a chance, if the listing was revoked, to operate in the EU and raise funds. They did not have to work under cover to exert pressure on Sri Lanka through politcial leadership in host countries.

With the delisting their primary aim was to get the funds which remained frozen released, Foreign Ministry sources said. It was evident by their action to specifically challenge the validity of sanctions - including the freezing of assets, imposed by the EU Council.

The ECJ ruling said the procedure adopted by the Council to ban the LTTE was flawed. The ruling read, “The General Court of the EU annuls, on procedural grounds, the Council measures maintaining the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam on the European list of terrorist organisations.”

The defendants - the EU supported by the Netherlands, the UK and the European Commission - were granted two months to appeal or rectify the procedural flaws to try and re-impose the measures against the LTTE. However, the Court said the assets will remain frozen until a final ruling.

The case dragged on for years and despite desperate attempts by the LTTE diaspora, in January 2020, the LTTE was again listed as a banned organisation within the EU. The European Council in a release said, “The persons, groups and entities on the list are subject to the freezing of their funds and other financial assets in the EU. It is also prohibited for EU operators to make funds and economic resources available to them.” The move came as a shock to the proponents of the LTTE case.

Information

Although Sri Lanka is not a party to the case, the Government supported the EU in its listing of the LTTE and has provided information supportive of the regulation to facilitate the continuation of the ban.

The Court case to revoke the LTTE listing within the EU is a clear signal as to how desperate, strong and organised the LTTE international campaign which is dead set on reviving the dormant outfit, an authoritative government official said.

Earlier, a Netherlands Court heard how LTTE activists raised 130 million Euros for terrorism funding. The prosecution said the men visited the houses and used threats to extort money from the Tamil community in the Netherlands. The five accused were found guilty as accused and sentenced in 2011.

A senior terrorism expert, Prof.Rohan Gunaratna told the Sunday Observer, the LTTE remnants are looking to breakup Sri Lanka politically, since its terrorist movement failed to win their separatist demands.

LTTE plan

“The LTTE plan at home is to campaign for federalism, hold elections and create a separate state. The LTTE plan overseas is to gain diplomatic recognition and gain access to millions of dollars of frozen LTTE funds. As long as the LTTE is listed as a terrorist group, the Tamil public are reluctant to support it. “

He said that after the LTTE was militarily defeated, its international network which engaged in fundraising, procurement and shipping has transformed. “Today, the terrorist supporters are masquerading as human rights activists and lobbying human rights bodies in Geneva,” he said, adding that the biggest LTTE lobby is in Geneva. The LTTE is also exercising constituency pressure on western political leaders dependent on the minority vote and donations.

In addition to supporting their electoral campaigns, according to Prof. Gunaratna, the LTTE is funding British and other western politicians. Unless the LTTE network overseas is not dismantled, the LTTE will present a significant threat both to Sri Lanka and to India.

He said LTTE maintains extensive links with Tamil Nadu and if the LTTE is delisted, the group will re-emerge threatening both India and Sri Lanka.

The latest ruse from the TGTE in UK comes in the wake of failed attempts in India and the EU.

Open verdict

On Wednesday October 21, 2020 UK’s Proscribed Organizations Appeals Commission (POAC) gave an open verdict in favor of an appeal by a group of LTTE sympathisers to get the terror group off the list of organisatons proscribed under UK’s Terrorism Act of 2000. This group was representing an entity called Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam, a so called government in exile created by LTTE remnants, to champion the cause of a separate state in the north and east of Sri Lanka.

The appeal was against a decision of the Secretary of State dated March 8, 2019 to refuse an application submitted by the same individuals to remove the LTTE from the ‘list’.

Reports from London revealed that after the ruling ‘the Commission could instruct the UK Home Secretary to lay a statutory instrument before parliament that may ultimately remove the LTTE from the list of proscribed organisations in the UK’. The form of relief to be given to the applicants will be notified later in a second hearing by the Commission.

‘However, the UK government is likely to oppose this form of relief and instead request that the matter be remitted back to the Home Secretary. The home Secretary will make a new decision on the ban taking into consideration all the evidence – rectifying the flaws,’ the reports added.

LTTE has been in the banned organisations list in the UK since March 2001.

The Government last week vowed to fight the LTTE remnant’s latest attempt to get its name off proscribed organisation’s list, this time in the UK. The government is not a party to the case, but it assisted the UK Government by providing relevant information with regard to continued terrorist activities.

Sufficient evidence

The Government has conveyed that Sri Lanka has sufficient evidence to prove that the remnants of the LTTE and groups aligned with its terrorist ideology are active in foreign countries, working to incite violence and destabilise the country.

“Sri Lanka remains vigilant of threats to its national security as well as that of the region, and will always support members of the international community in the global fight against terrorism,” a statement by the Foreign Ministry said.

And in India, despite vociferous attempts by LTTE sympathisers in Tamil Nadu to get the LTTE off the hook, the Union government in May 2019 extended the ban on LTTE for another five years. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said the notification to declare the LTTE as an “unlawful association” was issued ‘for violent and disruptive activities that are prejudicial to the integrity and sovereignty of the country.’

The Hindu reported, “Even after its military defeat in May 2009 in Sri Lanka, the LTTE had not abandoned the concept of ‘Eelam’ and had been clandestinely working towards the cause by undertaking fund-raisingand propaganda activities’. “The remnant LTTE leaders or cadres have also initiated efforts to regroup the scattered activists and resurrect the outfit locally and internationally,” the MHA was quoted as saying in the Hindu report.

“The LTTE’s objective for a separate homeland (Tamil Eelam) for all Tamils threatened the sovereignty and territorial integrity of India and amounted to cession and secession of a part of the territory of India....... thus fell within the ambit of unlawful activities,”the Indian Ministry said.

The LTTE will continue its battle for recognition in the future but it heard a bitter truth in the course of the POAC hearing in the UK,that only a ‘minority of the Tamil community had a positive view of the LTTE’.

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