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DateLine Sunday, 15 June 2008

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Putting the brakes on LTTE funding

Sri Lanka has been able to block major funding channels of the LTTE with the assistance of some countries which genuinely support the country’s efforts to eradicate terrorism.

On the other hand, the Sri Lanka Navy has almost blocked arms smuggling of the terror outfit with the assistance of several South East Asian countries.

It is regrettable, however, that there are a few countries which turn a Nelsonian eye against terrorism. President Mahinda Rajapaksa has consistently emphasised that terrorism anywhere in the world is terrorism and should be eradicated at any cost.

On his recent visit to the UK to address the Commonwealth Summit, President Rajapaksa stressed this again. During his meetings with some of the world leaders, President Rajapaksa stressed the importance of not only banning the LTTE but also its front organisations.

Since the US, UK, India, Canada and the European Union banned the LTTE and declared it a terrorist organisation, the Tigers have been adopting various strategies to maintain their global funding network. Ever since the organisation was banned in those countries, the LTTE formed several front organisations under different guises to continue their funding operations.

The Tamil Rehabilitation Organisation (TRO) is one of the main front organisations of the LTTE. When the TRO was found guilty of channelling funds collected during the tsunami devastation to the LTTE, the US immediately banned the TRO and froze their accounts. That was indeed a commendable move.

Since then, the Tigers have adopted various tactics and set up several front organisations in many countries under different names. All LTTE front organisations should be identified and banned immediately to weaken the LTTE and eradicate terrorism, Hence, the President called upon all countries which matter to block the LTTE’s funding using its front organisations.

While the Security Forces are successfully advancing forward in the Northern front, it is equally important that we curb whatever remaining funding channels of the LTTE.

The Government is fast gaining the confidence of the people living in the North. Especially, after the recent liberation of the Eastern Province and restoration of democracy, people in the LTTE-held Wanni and Mullaitivu districts too feel that they too should enjoy that ‘luxury’.

The people in the North and East are sick and tired of the LTTE’s terror which they have been subjected to over two decades. While promising the Tamils a ‘dream State’ called Eelam, the LTTE has been exploiting the sympathy of the Tamil Diaspora for terror acts.

Recruiting child soldiers, demanding ransom from businessmen, taxing their own community and using innocent civilians as a human shield are some of the LTTE acts against their own community, to which they preach ‘liberation’.

In addition to these high-handed acts against the Tamil community, the LTTE has also killed thousands of innocent civilians by exploding bombs in public places. They continue to do so, targeting innocent commuters who use public transport. Can this bunch of ruthless terrorists find the so-called liberation to Tamils?

People in the North too have now understood the LTTE’s intentions clearly.

As a result, many people living in the Tiger-held areas move to the cleared areas at the first opportunity. The Security Forces are increasingly gaining the confidence of the Tamil community. The large crowds who participated in the recent festivities in Jaffna are a good example.

The Government is making every endeavour to give true liberation to those people in Tiger ‘custody’. The results of the humanitarian operations in Sampur, Mavil Aru, Vakarai and Thoppigala are now visible. People in those areas now live sans fear.

Apart from the mega development projects launched since the Eastern liberation, the purchasing power of the people has increased sharply. Fishermen and dairy farmers in the area are reaping rich dividends, a positive sign which could lead them to economic prosperity.

People in the Wanni and Mullaitivu too are keeping their fingers crossed and are eagerly looking forward to the day when they could breathe ‘true liberation’. Notwithstanding the mega development projects under the Eastern Reawakening program, the resettlement process in the East is nearing completion.

Why doesn’t the international community look at these positive developments with an open mind? If they are sincerely interested in the aspirations of the people living in the North and the East, they should back the Government wholeheartedly and inspire Sri Lanka in its relentless battle against terrorism.

There seems to be a group of people who are affected by these positive developments. They either directly or indirectly benefit by the war situation. Through the INGOs and other channels, they rake a huge amount of money. Hence, these people who benefit immensely by some INGOs are trying to obstruct the Government’s forward march.

They come in various shades, ‘armed’ with effective ‘tools’ such as human rights, media freedom and disappearances. They operate in a manner that anyone could fall into their trap.

The international community should be wary and extra vigilant on the sinister moves of those who are after money or power. Some opposition politicians too are trying to exploit the situation and look for short cuts to regain power.

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