The Sri Lankan Government has designated 424 individuals and sixteen organizations including the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) under the United Nations Act No 45 of 1968 by Gazette Extraordinary No 1856/41dated March 21st 2014.
Details of the listing of the LTTE and fifteen other entities suspected of being LTTE fronts by the Sri Lankan govt were exclusively revealed in these columns earlier this week.
According to information disclosed in the Gazette notification 424 individuals from 19 countries including Sri Lanka have been listed.Those listed are preponderantly from the Global Tamil Diaspora.Over 30 of these persons are women.
The Gazette proclamation listing designated persons,groups and entities was done according to sub-paragraph (2) of paragraph (4) of the United Nations Regulations No. 1 of 2012 that was published in the Gazette Extraordinary No. 1758/19 of May 15, 2012.
The Competent authority for establishing and maintaining the list with respect to natural persons,legal,persons,groups and entities will be Mr.Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the Secretary, Defence and Urban Development ministry.
The order, designating persons and entities in terms of the United Nation.s Security Council Resolution 1373 which sets out strategies to combat terrorism and to control terrorist financing has been signed by Prof. G.L. Peiris, Minister of External Affairs.The UN security Council Resolution 1373 came into being on September 28th 2001 in the wake of the attack on the New York Trade Center on September 11th 2001.
According to a press release issued by the External Affairs ministry the order signed by Prof. GL Peiris was “ based on the recommendation by the Secretary, Ministry of Defence and Urban Development, as the Competent Authority regarding the identification of persons, groups and entities, believed on reasonable grounds to be committing, attempting to commit, facilitating or participating, in the commission of acts of terrorism”.
“The substantial effect of an order under this Regulation is that all funds, assets and economic resources belonging to or owned by the designated persons or entities remain frozen until they are removed from the designated list. Moving, transferring or dealing with frozen assets without the permission of the Competent Authority is prohibited. In terms of the Regulation, any person who fails to comply with an order to freeze assets is liable to heavy penalties”,stated the press release.
The 424 listed individuals comprising men and women are purportedly living in countries such as Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, India, Malaysia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, UK and the USA.
Informed circles stated that the Sri Lankan Govt will in due course furnish details of actions s allegedly committed by such designated persons to the law enforcement authorities of the countries concerned and request them to pursue further investigations in terms of the UN Resolution 1373 which expects states to cooperate with one another in combating alleged terrorism.If necessary the Sri Lankan Govt may initiate legal action through courts in the host countries against particularly prominent individuals from the Diaspora.
According to these sources it is also possible that legal procedures would be undertaken in Sri Lanka whereby movable or immovable assets and properties owned by such individuals or their close family members. However the onus would be on the Govt to convince courts that the individuals concerned have indeed engaged in terrorist activities and that the assets owned by close relatives actually belong to the listed individuals
It is also opined that the designated individuals will be placed on a ‘black list’ by Sri Lankan authorities and debarred from entering Sri Lanka.If any such person is detected as having entered Sri Lanka through devious means including the use of fraudulent travel documents they will be arrested under the Prevention of Terrorism act(PTA).
Sources said that as a result of the designation coming into force Sri Lankan nationals in the Island will be forbidden to maintain contact or links with listed individuals or entities.This would deter Sri Lankan political parties and leaders from obtaining funds from such entities or individuals for political undertakings in Sri Lanka. This move if strictly enforced is likely to affect several members of Tamil political parties in Sri Lanka.
This would also forbid Sri Lankan politicians and Non –Governmental Organization (NGO) activists being in contact with designated individuals or representatives of such listed entities either in Sri Lanka or during trips abroad.
Sections of the media in Sri Lanka giving wide coverage to statements and interviews given by officials of such organizations or listed individuals will also be restricted from doing so.
Furthermore the designation will also render family members of these proscribed entities or listed individuals liable for questioning if and when apprehended while visiting Sri Lanka.
Among those listed as designated individuals are the self-styled Prime minister of the Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam (TGTE) Visuvanathan Ruthirakumaran, Global Tamil Forum (GTF)President Rev. Fr. Seemanpillai Joseph Emmanuel, LTTE International secretariat leader Perinbanayagam Sivaparan alias “Nediyavan” and LTTE Headquarters leader Segarampillai Vinayagamoorthy alias” Vinayagam”.
Apart from these four several present and former “parliament members” from the Transnational Govt have been listed.This includes former Tamil National Alliance MP from Batticaloa now resident in Britain.
Also designated are many key activists of the LTTE including current and former “country chiefs” in many European countries.Two prominent personalities designated KP reggie former head of the TRO in Sri Lanka and “Root Ravi” who was in charge of the LTTE economic division in Jaffna and the Wanni. Both are currently residing in Europe.
Several persons against whom INTERPOL red notices were earlier issued at the begest of Sri Lakan authorities are also listed by the gazette declaration. This includes Ponniah Aanandarajan alias Aiyah who is suspected of allegedly retaining vast amounts of LTTE money intended for purchase of arms.
Accredited spokespersons and office-bearers of several reputed Diaspora Tamil organizations have been designated along with many prominent activists from such organizations. Political observers are doubtful whether these persons could be regarded as being involved with terrorism as the Sri Lankan Government states. They may be considered as ultra-nationalist Tamil activists but cannot be depicted as terrorists they opine. Some of these persons include respected professionals including reputed medical practitioners.
When I perused briefly the listed entities and individuals I was able to spot several flaws at first glance.For instance the reference to the now defunct World Tamil Movement (WTM) in Canada cites No 39 Consentino Drive, Scarborough and No 64 Eaton Avenue, Toronto as addresses of the movement. It is open knowledge among Tamils in greater Toronto including myself that both premises are no longer connected to the WTM or any Tamil entity. Both buildings were sold years ago. Ignorance of these basic facts place the gazette notification in poor light.
Another glaring error in the listing is to a woman named Thanuskodi Premini. I am aware of a woman by that name who was formerly an accountant of the Tamil Rehabilitation Organization (TRO). She was one of seven TRO employees abducted in Batticaloa and killed by the Tamil Makkal Viduthalaipp Puligal (TMVP) in 2006. Premini herself was brutally raped and executed. I have written about this gruesome incident. Yet the gazette lists the name Thanuskodi Premini. I don’t think there were two women by the same name. If it is indeed the same woman then I begin to wonder about the accuracy of the listing.
The designation of 16 entities and 424 individuals as having alleged terrorist links or being involved in terrorism is a very serious matter. The lives of many could be deeply affected. Their professional reputations could be irredeemably damaged.Grave travesties of justice could occur if action is pursued under faulty information.
Much as one understands the Sri Lankan Government wanting to overcome the threat posed in Sri Lanka by a resurgent LTTE fuelled by sections of the Global Tamil Diaspora one must emphasise that careless action based on erroneous information could prove counterproductive besides resulting in a travesty of justice.
Sri Lanka is well within its rights to combat the violent renaissance of the LTTE. As a Tamil of Sri Lankan origin I am firmly of the opinion that a revival of the LTTE would be detrimental to the suffering Tamils living in Sri Lanka. What is of paramount importance however is to ensure that no innocent person or institution is falsely accused or penalised on charges of involvement in terrorism while the tiger threat eradicated successfully.
DBS Jeyaraj can be reached at email@example.com