New Zealand’s Complicity in Sri Lanka’s Civil War
Posted on June 9th, 2009

by Roshan Mendis June 2009

In the aftermath of the end of the civil war in Sri Lanka, New Zealand should re-examine the small but potentially incendiary role it may have inadvertently played in the conflict. In 2005, New Zealand’s Agency for International Development (NZAID) handed over $121,500 in tsunami relief funds to the Tamil Rehabilitation Organisation (TRO), an organisation long suspected of being a front for the Tamil Tigers. That same year, the TRO had its charitable status revoked in Britain because it had “not been able to account satisfactorily for the application of funds.” Two years later, the TRO was blacklisted in the US on the grounds that it was raising funds and seeking to procure weapons for the Tigers. Despite assurances by the New Zealand government that it has not subsequently given funds to the TRO, it continues to hand over tens of thousands of dollars of tax payers’ money to community organisations that have functioned as a mouthpiece for the Tamil Tigers.

George Arulanantham, Coordinator of the Consortium of Tamil Associations in New Zealand (COTANZ) in Auckland (www.cotanz.org.nz), is on public record as declaring his support for the Tamil Tigers. In an interview he gave to Eugene Bingham from the New Zealand Herald in 2002, he said, “We are supporters of the LTTE – we feel they are freedom fighters.” This same George Arulanantham is also on the Board of Advisors for the Tamil Community Education (www.tamileducation.org.nz), an organisation that has received funding from the New Zealand Ministry of Education, Auckland City Council and the Lottery Board, yet has made no effort to conceal its indoctrination of Tamil children, including the glorification of the Tamil Tigers at recent “ƒ”¹…”cultural’ functions.

But Arulanantham’s involvement extends well beyond Tamil community groups. He is also an Executive member of the Refugee Council of New Zealand (www.rc.org.nz) and an Executive member of Ethnic Voice New Zealand Incorporated (www.ethnicvoice.co.nz), a national community organisation that has received financial support from the Office of Ethnic Affairs and the Ministry of Social Development. Ethnic Voice New Zealand Inc professes a goal of “fostering collaborative relationships between the ethnic communities in New Zealand and the government agencies.” One only hopes that Mr Arulanantham, keen fan of the Tigers that he is, is not too eager to introduce their trademark methods of “ƒ”¹…”fostering collaborative relationships between the ethnic communities’ – ethnic cleansing, civilian massacres and political assassinations – into New Zealand. Incidentally, Arulanantham’s daughter, Nirupa, is also allegedly  a self-described ‘Tamil Tiger Supporter’. Yet, perversely, she also holds office in the United Nations Youth Association of New Zealand and was a coordinator of this year’s Human Rights Film Festival, an event supported by the Ministry of Justice and Amnesty International.

The now defeated Tamil Tigers are banned as a terrorist group in over 30 countries including Britain, Canada and the US. They were infamous for recruiting thousands of child soldiers and dispatching hundreds of suicide bombers during their protracted campaign for a separate Tamil homeland. Less well known in the West is the Tigers’ long involvement in global narcotics trafficking and people smuggling. George Arulanantham is entitled to his own personal views, even though his self-professed support for the Tamil Tigers would be a criminal offence in a number of other Western countries. But the fact that an individual who so blatantly supports the Tamil Tigers is allowed to hold high public office in New Zealand is a disgrace. That New Zealand taxpayers’ money may have been utilized for Tamil Tiger activities (masquerading as “ƒ”¹…”community development’ or “ƒ”¹…”cultural’ programmes) must be thoroughly investigated. And how Ms George, an outspoken supporter of the Tamil Tigers, can be allowed to sit on a Human Rights body in New Zealand without provoking a national outcry is frankly bizzare.

New Zealand must pull its head out from under the sand and move immediately to deny sanctuary and support to those who seek to provide succour to extremist organizations. To this end, the National party-led Government of Prime Minister John Key should follow through on its 2008 election campaign pledge to proscribe various nefarious groups, including the Tamil Tigers, as terrorist entities. This is all the more important at this critical juncture when the Tigers are pinning their hopes for revival on the concerted efforts of the diaspora in the West. Migrants to New Zealand must not be allowed to abuse the freedoms we all enjoy in this beautiful country to foment violence and hatred in their countries of origin.

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