Handle Tamil diaspora with caution says SLFP

The former regime’s political stalwart MP Nimal Siripala de Silva expressed ‘concern’ when he asked last week in Parliament, whether the government had a mechanism in place to prevent the LTTE from raising its head once again. The US report in 2014 stated that the ‘LTTE financial network is intact.’ In fact, it referred to the time when the regime was under the leadership of Mahinda Rajapaksa.
‘It was under their very regime that claimed to have eradicated this threat once and for all,’ Minister Mangala Samaraweera told de Silva.
The Foreign Minister further pointed out that it is not the time to debate whether the government is aware of a report that has been produced every year since 2004. He asked why the post-war counter-terrorism strategies of the Rajapaksa regime failed so miserably.
imagesThe government which is keen to work ‘slow but steady’ towards achieving peace though a process of reconciliation has come ‘clean’ in stating that its willingness to embrace the Tamil Diaspora, at a time when the US report 2014 said, “although there have been known attacks in Sri Lanka that could verifiably be attributed to the LTTE since the end of the war, but 13 LTTE supporters, several of whom had allegedly planned attacks against the US and Israeli diplomatic facilities in India, were arrested in Malaysia in 2014.
The US also made a crucial reminder that LTTE’s financial network of support continued to operate throughout 2014 in Sri Lanka and India and the LTTE used its international contacts and the large Tamil Diaspora in North America, Europe and Asia to procure weapons, communication equipment, funding and other supplies. The group employed charities as fronts to collect and divert funds for its activities.
Whether the US Government continuously stating the same thing with responsibility is a different matter but the government’s new peace building initiative, unlike that of the former regime, is clear. The dubious reconciliation process with abrupt measures such as banning 16 Tamil organizations functioning abroad as “foreign terrorists” based on the UN Security Council Resolution 1373 declared after the twin tower attack on New York in 2001, is welcoming.
However, the ’embracing of the Tamil Diaspora at a time the US report reveals about LTTE financial network could also jeopardize the entire reconciliation process and divert the attention to the country’s security like tightening the now ‘relaxed’ security measures, especially in the North which has been pointed out by the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP).
Although there are major allegations that some Tamil Nadu politicians such as Vaiko is ‘using’ Tamil Diaspora funds to ‘fight’ against Sri Lankan Tamil’s poor welfare and calling for permanent solution for them, there isn’t a known active financial network of the LTTE in Sri Lanka.
After the listing of 16 organizations as foreign terrorist groups by the Rajapaksa regime last year, their former Foreign Minister G. L. Peiris said Sri Lanka will “nip in the bud” any attempt to revive the LTTE and there are even “compelling evidence” that the banned LTTE outfit was carrying out a global campaign to raise funds for terror activities in the country.
He further said, “As a result of extensive investigations going on and the government is aware of the sources of this funding and the bank accounts into which the monies had been paid. He also said 65 arrests have been made and 19 persons have been released after questioning but to this date we have no other information on the arrests and their backgrounds.
Whether the former government’s move to proscribe 16 organizations as foreign terrorist organizations has any connection to the LTTE financial network is not revealed. However, one of the listed organizations is the Global Tamil Forum (GTF) with whom Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera had closed door talks this month in the UK along with TNA MP Sumanthiran and a few other reputed persons.
Although Foreign Minister Samaraweera’s attempt to embrace the Tamil Diaspora because; ‘the LRRC emphasizes the vital need for the government to constructively engage with Diaspora groups, especially those who may harbour adversarial attitudes, to find space for them to contribute to the local reconciliation and development efforts’ as he puts, the government should have first used the competent authority to take into account to draw a line between those advocating separatism and those who have been voicing concerns regarding the rights of the Tamil people. The concerns, why the GTF which is already in the foreign terrorist group list is approached by the government before its stance is yet to be reviewed has even created reasonable doubts among Sri Lankans and Tamils globally.
The government focus must therefore be to first remove the ban on the listed groups after a proper analysis and also approach Tamils at all levels, hold discussions without limiting itself to ‘special offers’ creating further complications for the government and to the Tamils overall, if the government is ‘intending’ to be in power for another term.
In this backdrop, to understand the government’s approach towards the Tamil Diaspora and how the government will work on the US report of financial networking of the LTTE this time, as it is embracing the Tamil disapora which never occurred before, the media posed several questions to the Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Mahishini Colonne last week at the weekly press briefing.
She said the US report on LTTE fund network is ‘not a new report and it has made the same statement this year, last year and in the previous year’s report and asked what is so exciting about it’. She also said the report did not mention about the GTF when the fact remained that it is still listed as a foreign terrorist group which has to be reviewed as Minister Samaraweera pointed out.
She also said she does not see how the GTF is connected to the US report as the report ‘did not mention GTF’.
It has been a ‘practice’ by the former government waiting to ‘pick’ on the Tamils, Tamil politicians, Tamil disapora’s actions beside ‘watching’ over their movements and remarks, to use them for their own benefits in politics. What is noteworthy is though the Foreign Minister’s spokesperson said ‘like in the past years’ this government is also continuously working closely with the intelligence and foreign governments in keeping an eye on the LTTE networking and that process has not ceased, the country’s politics is always based on the Tamils.
The Tamils and the Tamil Diaspora has been a crucial part in politics. However, placing its trust on the Tamils as and when wanted should be avoided altogether.
Certain Tamil Diaspora groups have already started funding to build hundreds of houses in the North without ‘glorifying’ themselves due to reasons best known. In fact, many of the Northern families are financially supported by the Tamil Diaspora when the government failed to do their share.
So the practice of using the Tamils as ‘dice’ to take forward the country and blame them at a downfall should not be the practice and the government should have clear cut policies when working with the Tamils and especially the Tamil Diaspora without jeopardizing the country’s future plans nor causing hindrance to their lives.