Allowing contributions to LTTE front organizations – “a major concession”

Canada has banned the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) with effect from April 8, according to a government announcement in Ottawa on Monday.

“But the announcement added that Canadians could continue to make financial contributions to the LTTE’s front organisations.

This is a major concession to the LTTE given the fact that the militant outfit, described as “terrorist” by the Canadian government, collects funds mainly through its front organisations”, wrote PK Balachandran in a news write up in the Hindustan Times.

Question and answer number 5 in the “Frequently asked questions” regarding the listing of the LTTE put out by Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada addresses this issue:

Q5: If an individual provides money to a front organization which is believed to be associated with the LTTE will that individual be charged under the Criminal Code?

A5: No, only donations to the LTTE are effected by this listing.

Today, on the first day following the official announcement of the ban, The Toronto Star writes in its Editorial, “Like any other community, they should be free to get on with their lives, leaving old conflicts behind.”

But according to one legal expert speaking to the Toronto Star, aside from the political and symbolic implications, the move has limited practical application.

“It’s very unfortunate window dressing,” says Queen’s Faculty of Law professor Sharryn Aiken, who argues the negative impact of the listing outweighs any positive outcome. “As a matter of law, there is very little added benefit.”

Aiken told Toronto Star that Canada has lost its neutral position to help in the peace process when the two sides come together next week in Geneva for a Norwegian-brokered meeting.

The Canadian Tamil Congress, who claims to be “the representative organization of Canadian Tamils”, in a statement released says it considers Canada’s decision to be harmful as both the LTTE and the government of Sri Lanka who are currently engaged in an internationally brokered peace process as equal partners.

It adds that Canada’s move will be interpreted by Sri Lanka as a victory for continued occupation of Tamil homeland and killing of Tamils with impunity.

CTC also expressed fear that the ban will strengthen the anti-peace elements including the Marxists and religious fundamentalists in Sri Lanka and their supporters in Canada.

Vincent Veerasuntharam, a Tamil businessman from Toronto who ran unsuccessfully as a Tory candidate in the January election, told the Canadian Press, “the Tamil community is quite confused and disappointed” by the terrorist designation.

Tamils want Canada to assist the peace negotiations, he said, and are also concerned about the impact the terrorist designation may have on their ability to see their extended families in their homeland.

“They’re Canadians first, law-abiding citizens, hard-working people, paying their taxes, raising families,” Veerasuntharam told The Canadian Press.

“But they have a lot of families left there (in Sri Lanka). They just want justice and peace for their folks.”


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