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DateLine Sunday, 8 April 2007

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Government Gazette

'Operation USA' - A silent fund-raiser

At a long, winding street, location of Culver City, California, in a ghostly building hidden amongst creepers, reminiscent of the stone cave in the grand old fable "Ali Baba and the forty thieves", was conducting a silent auction for a supposedly public charitable cause in Sri Lanka for destitute children, mostly affected by Tsunami. The 'silent fund-raiser' was organised and conducted by "Operation USA" (OUSA) a charitable organisation in the US and the location was its headquarters at 3617, Hayden Avenue.

Outside the building was a group of men, women and monks who had gathered to protest the silent auction, labelling it as an attempt to collect funds for the TRO (Tamil Rehabilitation Organisation), a front organisation aiding and abetting one of world's deadliest terrorist organisations, the LTTE, popularly known as Tamil Tigers. The Tigers thrive on moneys collected from extortions, drug peddling, carrying out illegal business dealings and forced donations. A spokesperson for the fund raiser who introduced herself as "Nimmi" appealed to the gathering to refrain from carrying out the protest declaring that the organisers and "Operation USA" had nothing to do with the TRO. A while later the President of "Operation USA", Richard Walden walked out looking for the organiser of the protest and declared that he was an attorney, to which a protestor muttered "Good for you. My house maid is also one"!

A spokesman who surfaced from a sea of placards of slogans ("Operation scam USA", "TRO terror operations", Down with LTTE terrorism etc.) mentioned that the TRO was removed from the list of charitable organisations in UK by the British Charitable Commission, the country's regulatory body for charitable institutions, for failure to provide any explanations as to the provenance of some of the funds received from US and Canada. "Operation USA has named TRO as one of their partners in Sri Lanka and their own accounting statements reveal substantial amounts being donated to TRO," the spokesman added.

"The LTTE has a child brigade of 5,000 children according to Human Rights Watch and the UNICEF. The under-aged Children have been recruited by forced conscription through raiding schools and homes. The kids are at the front lines and are force to form the cannon fodder to guard the ageing terror maniacs. These people are shrewd liars, they have hoodwinked the westerners into believe that there is discrimination when they cannot prove or list the alleged discriminations they face. Majority of the Tamil community in Sri Lanka live among the Sinhalese in peace. Thousands upon thousands of Tamil flee the LTTE dominated areas for fear of life, to those controlled by the government. The TRO and their collaborators shrewdly manipulate the westerners for funds to oil the terrorist activities."

"While the government has committed itself to abide by all human rights regulations, the terror group LTTE indulges in the most inhumane and anomalistic acts of terror. The donor dollars obtained in the pretext of running orphanages are channelled through TRO to the LTTE." The spokesman added.

While the protestors silently exhibited their placards to the public and those attending the fund-raiser, there were others who were distributing a pamphlet titled "Operation USA - The tale of the trail with TRO" which carried an account of the shady activities of the TRO and Operation USA's proclamation of partnership with them. Potential donors who came to the event and passers-by who expressed interest were provided details about the TRO and its connections to the Tigers.

Some of the organisers of the fundraiser tried to dissuade and even intimidate the protesters by making various remarks while a few Tamil expatriates tried to 'butter up' the protesters by inviting them in and declaring that they too were against the LTTE.

"We have come here to prove a point and not to be dissuaded by the sweet talk of the organisers who now attempt to put on a human face to their misdeeds," said a lady who was passionately involved with the protest. Passions had calmed towards the concluding stages around 8 p.m., when small pockets of discussions between the two factions were seen and the Tamil expatriates expressed their desire to hold further discussions with the protesters in the future.

It may take more than 'sweet talk.' Currently, Operation USA is carrying on a campaign on its website calling for the United Nations to send a monitoring mission to Sri Lankan separate from and in addition to the present Commission of Inquiry and the IIGEP.

In a letter to the UN Secretary Gen., the organisation states: As you are well aware, the situation in the north and east of Sri Lanka is disastrous, and the Sri Lankan Tamils who populate this region are suffering untold horrors. Since land-based entry to Jaffna was cut off in August 2006 with the closure of the main highway, 500,000 civilians in the peninsula have not had access to basic food, fuel, medicines and other essential commodities. In recent weeks, a reported 20,000 people have fled Vaharai due to a surge in violence; 15,000 people remain trapped in this region and are on the verge of death due to starvation. Conservative estimates put the death of civilians since August 2006 at 3,000. Two decades of conflict has resulted in the death of close to 70,000."

The letter does not make any mention of LTTE atrocities.

It is to be seen if Sri Lankans are going to believe that the overtures of friendship by the Tamils associated with Operation USA are genuine or if they will ignore them as just an attempt to prevent embarrassing and damaging protests in the future.

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