Open letter to Murray McCully, New Zealand Minister of Foreign Affairs
Posted on June 16th, 2009

Roshan Mendis NEW ZEALAND

Dear Mr McCully,

I am deeply concerned that the National-led government has failed to designate the Tamil Tigers as a terrorist entity, despite pre-election pledges by National to move swiftly to bring New Zealand into line with our like minded allies on this issue. I refer to your newsletter of 8 August, 2008, in which you categorically assert, “‘That the Tamil Tigers are fully fledged terrorists is beyond dispute.”

In the aftermath of the end of the civil war in Sri Lanka, the Tigers are pinning all their hopes for revival on the concerted efforts of the diaspora. Unable to directly raise funds or operate effectively in Australia, Canada, the US or the EU, New Zealand is increasingly becoming the country of choice for the Tigers to regroup and reorganize. LTTE cells operating in Auckland and Wellington have assumed responsibility for fundraising and procurement efforts throughout Australasia, previously co-ordinated from Melbourne. Emboldened by the Government’s inaction, certain front organizations have even used taxpayer-funded community grants to print Tamil Tiger posters and flags for so-called ‘cultural’ functions. It seems incredible that the Tamils Rehabilitation Organization (TRO) continues to function openly in this country (with a registered address of 371 Dominion Road, Mt. Eden, Auckland) despite being unequivocally exposed as a front for the Tamil Tigers. Just this week, four Tamil defendants on trial in New York pleaded guilty to conspiring to provide material support to the LTTE by laundering millions of dollars through the TRO.

I understand that the reluctance to proscribe the Tamil Tigers derives from historical concerns in some quarters that doing so during the ceasefire period would destabilize the peace process, and that doing so during the fighting would make the Tigers less inclined to agree to a future ceasefire. Clearly, both these concerns are no longer valid. I have to wonder then why the government continues to drag its feet on this important issue. I sincerely hope that your government has not compromised on its earlier principled position on this matter as a result of the sustained and intense lobbying it has come under by a section of the Tamil community. While moving to designate the Tamil Tigers would no doubt ruffle the feathers of some of the Tamil community residing here, the overwhelming majority of South Asian immigrants in New Zealand would be strongly supportive of such a move. I need not remind you that among the large Indian diaspora resident in New Zealand, there is no love for the Tamil Tigers, particularly since the organization assassinated former Indian Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi.

In the event, I would be grateful for your responses to the following:

1) Do you still consider the Tamil Tigers to be ‘fully fledged terrorists’ as per your assertion in 2008?

2) Are you aware that the LTTE has stepped up its activities in New Zealand in recent months?

3) Do you still consider it necessary to use the post-September 11 toolkit of counter-terrorism legislation to make groups such as the Tamil Tigers subject to special scrutiny from counter terrorism authorities?

3) Has the government abandoned plans to designate the Tamil Tigers as a terrorist organization? If so, what is the basis for this change of position?

I look forward to your reply to my specific queries at your earliest possible convenience.

Many thanks,

Kind regards,

Roshan Mendis

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