Home » Sri Lanka lifts ban on Tamil diaspora groups that once funded terror – Asianet Newsable

Sri Lanka lifts ban on Tamil diaspora groups that once funded terror – Asianet Newsable

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Colombo, First Published Aug 16, 2022, 8:21 PM IST

The Sri Lankan government stated on Tuesday that it had decided to withdraw the sanctions against six Tamil diaspora organisations and 316 people because it was discovered that they were no longer funding terrorist activities.

The statement was made a few days after the Ministry of Defence lifted the ban on six Tamil diaspora groups and 316 people, which had been in effect since 2014 and had been imposed by then-President Mahinda Rajapaksa. The ban had been issued by Extraordinary Gazette number 2291/02, dated August 1.

The Ministry of Defence said in a clarification released in Colombo on Tuesday that the decision was made since it was discovered that they were no longer sponsoring terrorist operations.

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Sri Lanka's opposition groups had questioned the reasons for the delisting. These six diaspora groups include the Australian Tamil Congress, Global Tamil Forum, World Tamil Coordinating Committee, Tamil Eelam Peoples Assembly, Canadian Tamil Congress and British Tamil Forum. 

"According to blacklisting and delisting of persons, 577 individuals and 18 organisations were blacklisted in the year 2021 for financing terrorism under the UN regulation No 1 of 2012," the statement said. 

"After a series of discussions and the careful study conducted at the ministry of defense by a committee consisting of the ministry of foreign affairs, the Attorney General, key intelligence agencies and Financial Intelligence Unit of the central bank of Sri Lanka and based on reports and evidence with regard to the financing terrorism by individuals and organisations recommendations were submitted for the listing and delisting," the statement said. 

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and 15 other Tamil diaspora organisations were outlawed in 2014 by President Mahinda Rajapaksa's administration because to their suspected ties to terrorism and their pivotal involvement in the violent, three-decade-long civil conflict in the nation.

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To start talks for the reconstruction efforts of the Tamil regions in Sri Lanka's northern provinces, which were decimated by the civil war, President Maithripala Sirisena removed a ban on these organisations in 2015.

In 2021, the Gotabaya Rajapaksa government banned these groups again and refused to engage in talks with them. 

Responding to the delisting, the main Tamil party in Sri Lanka, Tamil National Alliance (TNA) said they welcomed the decision. "However, it must be noted that even others who remain on the list have been so named without any evidence connecting them to terrorism and by not following the prescribed procedure. We urge the government to at least continue this process of re-evaluating and de-proscribing all," the TNA statement said. 

Following its conflict with the LTTE, the Sri Lankan government started acting aggressively toward Tamilian organisations. After Velupillai Prabhakaran, the LTTE's top leader was killed by the Sri Lankan Army in 2009, the organisation's military campaign for a separate Tamil state in the island nation's northern and eastern districts came to an end.

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Over 20,000 persons are reported missing in Sri Lanka, according to government statistics, as a result of numerous wars, including the three-decade horrific war with Lankan Tamils in the north and east, which killed at least 100,000 lives. The Sri Lankan government disputes the claims made by international rights groups that at least 40,000 ethnic Tamil civilians died in the last stages of the conflict.

(With inputs from PTI)

Last Updated Aug 16, 2022, 8:38 PM IST

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