How rich & influential is the LTTE Diaspora kitty after LTTE defeat?
Posted on March 11th, 2017
Shenali D Waduge
The business of terrorism has caused bloodshed and agony. It lasted 30 long years. While the innocent died, were maimed and continue to dress the wounds, the strategists, planners, fundraisers and propagandists continue to thrive plotting another debacle. Their endeavor is to continue to milk the LTTE cash cow kept alive by the promise of a Tamil Homeland that has been the driving force for decades and the carrot presented to voluntarily or by force keep the kitty filled. The players who silently raised funds for LTTE when Prabakaran was alive have today established themselves as ‘promoters of human rights, reconciliation & peace builders’. The camaflage has been excellent and LTTE media have robed them in angel suits. The money they are now saving from spending on buying arms, ammunition and other logistics for LTTE cadres & the maintenance of their families is now spent buying foreign MPs, influencing international players and using their entities to brush shoulders with the high & mighty, tap their weaknesses and bargain their cause. LTTE Tamil Diaspora, less dangerous when Prabakaran was alive, is more dangerous now. What good are western reports, arrests investigations if people and organizations that provided material support, raised funds and who are now buying over foreign parliamentarians are not indicted under western laws as most of them hold western passports and are citizens of those countries?
Robert Rotberg in his “Creating peace in Sri Lanka: civil war and reconciliation. Brookings Institution Press.” 1999. Web. Accessed 22 July 2013 says “The LTTE is one of several violent offshoots of the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF), formerly the Tamil United Front (TUF). TUF was formed in the early 1970s from groups such as the Tamil Congress and the Federal Party.”
United States declared in 2014 that said that LTTE Tamil Diaspora network was still active and the LTTE uses its international contacts and the large Tamil diaspora in North America, Europe, and Asia to procure weapons, communications, funding, and other needed supplies
In March 2017, Canadian authorities arrested a Tamil couple accused of money laundering $8million. How many more in the Tamil Diaspora are involved in similar rackets is the question.
With the arrest of Raj Rajaratnam for insider trading, it emerged that he was the single largest known U.S. contributor to a charity linked to the LTTE having given more than $3.5 million to the Tamil Rehabilitation Organization (TRO). US Treasury froze TRO assets in 2007. http://www.asianmirror.lk/news/item/3968-raj-rajaratnam-to-be-tried-for-funding-ltte
Diasporas as autonomous political actors: The case of the Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora by Lola Guyot in 2016 “During the Sri Lankan civil war that lasted almost thirty years, the diaspora was the rear-guard of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) abroad, providing the financial resources and armament necessary for the conduct of the war.”……………..” Most diasporic organizations have not diverted from the LTTE ideology on the issue of the separate state.”
Understanding the Politics of the Sri Lankan Tamil Diaspora in Switzerland by Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies …. “There are substantial differences in opinion between generations on the goals and means of the Tamil diaspora’s engagement in Tamil politics” …” there is a high degree of infighting within the different organisations due to the predominance of personal agendas over ideological or organisational concerns”…………” Several interviewees noted how former LTTE representatives have reinvented themselves as members of the newly created transnational Tamil organisations.”
“A section of the Tamil diaspora, particularly within the second generation, is trying to fight the 2006 European Union (EU) ban on the Tamil Tigers since it has a strong impact on financial transactions from EU countries to Sri Lanka and diminishes the international legitimacy of the LTTE.”
In 2016 the Swiss Govt filed charges against 13 Tamils for funding LTTE – they had raised $15.2 million.
Dr. Rohan Gunaratne’s “Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam Organization & Operations in Canada” estimates LTTE raised more than $22m in Canada in 1999 alone!
According to Solomon and Tan (2007), the LTTE outsourced its fundraising – including extortion – tasks within the community to ethnic Tamil gangs for a commission, in countries like France and the UK
Wikileaks cable April 10, 2006 by the US Embassy Ottawa…”Experts have estimated that in the 1990s, over 80 percent of the Tamil Tigers’ military budget came from overseas sources, and various reports have estimated that the Canadian Tamil diaspora was a source of between $1-10 million annually.”………. Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) stated that eight front organizations support the Tigers in Canada…….A former Canadian ambassador to Sri Lanka, Martin Collacot, told the National Post “The Tigers and their supporters in Canada and particularly Toronto had become adept at delivering votes from the Tamil community to Liberal candidates at election time, and as long as this support continued, the Liberals were prepared to let the Tigers have virtual free rein to carry out their activities (in Canada).”
Dr. Asoka Bandarage writing to the Harvard International Review writes that “U.S and western policy towards Sri Lanka has been shaped largely by the Sri Lankan Tamil Diaspora.” http://hir.harvard.edu/diasporas-and-post-conflict-development-in-sri-lanka/
International Crisis Group writing after the defeat of the LTTE says “Although the May 2009 defeat of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) has dramatically reduced the diaspora’s influence, the majority of Tamils outside Sri Lanka continue to support a separate state, and the diaspora’s money can ensure it plays a role in the country’s future”…..” Funding networks established by the LTTE over decades are seriously weakened but still in place”
In 2006 Human Rights Watch produced a report “Funding the “Final War” LTTE Intimidation and Extortion in the Tamil Diaspora” covering October 2005-February 2006 using telephone and personal interviews of Tamil communities in Toronto, Canada, London, UK, Geneva, Switzerland and Germany and meetings with London Metropolitan Police, the Toronto Police, UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office, independent experts & World Tamil Movement.
What the report confirms is that the Tamil communities living in the West became a ‘significant source of financial and political support for the LTTE’. It also declares that Tamil Diaspora were ‘willingly & actively supporting the LTTE’ while some were subject to ‘intimidation, extortion, physical violence’ by LTTE Diaspora who wanted a steady flow of income. We would like to know how many were willing supporters and how many Tamils were not. Either way both had to fill the LTTE kitty. How much was inside that kitty is the question.
That LTTE took control of Hindu temples in UK was also highlighted. HRW also emphasised that a ‘culture of fear within the Tamil community’ prevailed. Is that still continuing is another question to be answered!
HRW says that “fundraisers for the LTTE and LTTE-linked organizations” launched a massive fundraising drive (house to house/businesses & professionals) for the ‘final war’ in 2005-2006. Is the LTTE Diaspora now doing the same to buy over Sri Lanka’s parliament and bring about a new constitution to carve out the Eelam they have promised?
HRW goes on to say “The LTTE’s dependence on the Tamil diaspora for financial support, and the diaspora’s substantial size and influence, give the diaspora unique potential to influence the LTTE’s policies and behavior, including its human rights practices”
HRW confirms that LTTE was responsible for carrying out “more than 200 suicide bombings aimed at both civilian and military targets” and assassinating “politicians from rival Tamil parties, journalists and human rights activists” as well as massacres and retaliatory killings of Sinhalese & Muslim villagers. HRW also confirms that LTTE ‘imprisoned and tortured thousands of dissidents and their family members and conducted public executions of suspected informers”. This was the LTTE that the Ban Ki Moon appointed Panel of ‘Experts” claim was ‘disciplined’! HRW also confirms that LTTE ‘recruited thousands of children for use as soldiers, often through force or coercion, and used some of them to carry out suicide bombings”.
“From February 2002 through January 2006, UNICEF documented 4,347 cases of child recruitment; over 36 percent involved children under the age of fifteen at the time of recruitment” LTTE Diaspora today speaking of human rights are not bothered about what has happened to these 4347 children most of whom would have been sent to battle after minimum training.
HRW quotes Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission that logged 3471 violations against the LTTE and 162 only against the SL Army.
Wikileaks April 2006 cable of Canadian Government banning LTTE. Noteworthy is that CSIS has stated that eight front organizations supported LTTE (are they the same as the Fronts banned by GOSL in April 2014?)” Experts have estimated that in the 1990s, over 80 percent of the Tamil Tigers’ military budget came from overseas sources, and various reports have estimated that the Canadian Tamil diaspora was a source of between $1-10 million annually.” (are these organizations continuing fund raising) https://wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/06OTTAWA1029_a.html
In 2014 the Mackenzie Institute featured an article by Jeff Sole titled “Is Canada an Unofficial State Sponsor of Terrorism?” According to Toronto police Tamil task force, there were as many as 8,000 members of, “Tamil terrorist factions” in Toronto in 2000 (how many has the figure increased to by 2016?) The article confirms that “While the LTTE made a profession out of document forgery”
Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) report “The Exploitation of Canada’s Immigration System: An Overview of Security and Intelligence Concerns,” raises the question – how guilty are LTTE fronts of abusing the Canadian immigration system and what is the Canadian Govt doing about it?
In 2012 John Thompson suggested that the LTTE created a Sri Lankan diaspora as a mechanism to maintain an international support structure.
The Institute came out again with another report “What next for the Tamil Tigers” after its defeat in 2009 http://mackenzieinstitute.com/what-next-for-the-tamil-tigers/
Basically, what it means is such a cash rich cow has to find ways to sustain itself! ‘The new constitution’ is how the LTTE fronts have ‘brought back’ people into the fold.
Michael Freeman’s ‘Financing Terrorism”
The British military publication Jane’s Intelligence Review says LTTE fronts raise up to $300 million (204 million euros) a year, or between 80 and 90 percent of their total budget, abroad
The LTTE’s Online Network and its Implications for Regional Security by Shyam Tekwani January 2006 https://www.rsis.edu.sg/wp-content/uploads/rsis-pubs/WP104.pdf
“Around 20% of the LTTE’s funding came from internal sources, including extortion, taxation, and payments for protection. “ …. One of the main sources of internal revenue for the LTTE came from custom duties passing through areas controlled by the LTTE. These customs duties ranged from 10-30% of the cost of the items. “ Manoharan, N. “Financial Fodder – Internal Sources of LTTE Funds.” Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies. 16 October 2004
Stewart Bell writing to the National Post claims “8,000 Tamil Guerrillas” live in Toronto. http://www.nationalpost.com/home.asp?f=000617/320822
It is clear that the intelligence units and police in the very countries that LTTE has been banned have done their homework and have updated reports on the illegal activities of LTTE Tamil Diaspora. Arrests have also been made. However, a more concerted effort connecting all of the LTTE Tamil Diaspora would reveal the international network and its scope. The question is should LTTE Tamil Diaspora that had been funding LTTE over the years be allowed to dictate what and what not the Government of Sri Lanka should implement. These groups are now regular visitors to Geneva, they dictate how resolutions are drafted, they are now dictating the Government of Sri Lanka to remove military bases and whom to issue land deeds to. This is like ISIS and Al Qaeda dictating to the Western governments.
Sanity should prevail. These LTTE heads and their organizations were banned under UNSC Resolution 1373, why have they not been investigated when reports of their activities are available and documented. Given that they are foreign citizens why are they allowed to be championing breaking up of a sovereign nation and spearheading activities that violate Western laws?
Surely Western governments should not act in the appeasing and shameless manner that the current government is functioning in falling at the feet of the LTTE Tamil Diaspora and agreeing to every ridiculous demand they make.
Shenali D Waduge