New dawn in East

Monday’s live telecast of the Janapathi Janahamuwa (Meet the President) was perhaps a unique programme as it gave the Eastern people, including those in newly-liberated Vakarai (Batticaloa District), an opportunity to interact directly with the President via videoconference.

The sentiments of the people in the three Eastern centres (the others were Kinniya and Lahugala in Trincomalee and Ampara districts) were similar – they were thankful to President Mahinda Rajapaksa and to the Government for liberating the East from terrorism and giving them a chance to breathe freely again.

They also urged the President to accelerate the Eastern Resurgence drive. They also pointed out some problems unique to their own areas. President Rajapaksa noted that this was the very reason why the Easterners needed a separate Provincial Council and local bodies represented by their own representatives who know the needs and aspirations of the local population.

The Easterners were also adamant that the terrorists should never ever be allowed to raise their ugly head again in the East. The President vowed that the LTTE would never gain a foothold in the East again.

The LTTE will be cornered once the civilian administration takes over and addresses the social and development grievances of the people. The Easterners have already realised that LTTE domination resulted only in misery and that only the Government can offer a comprehensive development and welfare programme.

That goal will be affected if a party that is hostile to the Central Government is elected to govern the Provincial Council.

Another significant revelation was that the people have had no trouble from armed groups as alleged by certain parties.

As the President told the Eastern residents, it is time that we stopped casting aspersions on the TMVP simple because it remained as an armed group.

This is certainly not the first time that such a transformation has taken place. Indeed, there are some senior politicians who had participated in the youth insurrection of 1971.

All Tamil militant parties except the LTTE have entered the democratic mainstream today. Should we marginalise and criticise them all because of their past ?

Such a step would be an affront to democracy. It is hard to imagine now, but even the LTTE should be inducted to democracy one day if possible. That is the very essence of democracy – solving problems through the ballot, not the bullet.
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Terror funds

It is rarely that we get a glimpse of the secret operations of the Tigers away from the battlefield. When they do come out, one can realise the extent to which the Tigers will go to secure funds for their campaign of death and destruction.

Such revelations are now being published almost on a daily basis in the Canadian press. According to the National Post, counterterrorism investigators in Toronto have seized a letter signed by the leader of the LTTE directing Canadian Tamils to send him C$ 3 million.

This is by no means a small sum.

It indicates that the extortion of Tamil expatriates remains one of the most effective for the LTTE to fill their coffers, a fact that was also highlighted by the US State Department in its Sri Lanka section of the Country Reports On Terrorism 2008.

Prabhakaran’s letter also proves beyond any doubt that the LTTE operates several front organisations for this purpose, as it was found during a search of the Toronto office of the World Tamil Movement, which had earlier denied any links to the Tigers. In fact, the Canadian Police has described the WTM as the “Canadian branch” of the Tigers.

International cooperation is vital to check the Tigers’ money trail and for that matter, the money laundering activities of all terror groups.

The LTTE has collected hundreds of thousands of dollars in Quebec and Ontario and remitted it overseas to pay for arms and other materials.

The LTTE has been banned in Canada, US, European Union and many other countries. Hence, it cannot raise funds under its own name in these countries.

But the LTTE has always circumvented this problem by establishing so-called cultural or social organisations that seemingly have no connection to it.

Other countries should follow the Canadian example and investigate the front organisations of the Tigers.

Cutting off funding is one of the most effective ways of crippling terror outfits and the LTTE is no exception.

In this context, the UN must move quickly on the urgent implementation of international laws on terrorist financing.


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