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Tamil diaspora operations will be restricted - Dy. Minister of External Affairs

The activities and operations of the 16 pro-LTTE Tamil diaspora groups which the Government has banned will now be restricted and be under observation in the countries where they are based, said Deputy Minister of External Affairs Neomal Perera in an interview with the Sunday Observer.


Neomal Perera

He said they are a threat not only to Sri Lanka but to the region and the world as a whole.

Members of the organisations and persons connected to the organisations will be arrested and detained on entering the country and will be indicted under the law of the land, he said.

He also spoke about the Government's plans to establish new diplomatic missions in many more countries and to considerably increase the number of diplomats.

Excerpts :

Q: The Government has banned 16 pro-LTTE Tamil diaspora organisations. Will it restrict the activities and operations of these organisations in the respective countries where they are based?

A: As a terrorist organisation the LTTE was banned in Sri Lanka and many other countries. The ban is still in force although the terrorist outfit was militarily defeated in May 2009. We stopped funds and other support coming to their rumps from organisations abroad in an effort to revive them. We would adopt the same methods and procedures, with the support and coordination of the respective governments. We have tangible evidence to prove that these pro-LTTE organisations have been engaged in fund-raising and other anti-government activities to promote the LTTE's separatist agenda. I do not think the international community would refuse our request to cooperate with us in dealing with them, because they are a regional and global threat. They have to support us in banning these organisations and freezing their funds. These groups and persons have been identified on reasonable grounds to have abetted and aided in the commission of acts of terrorism. Certainly their operations and activities will be restricted and will be under close monitoring in the countries where they are based.

Q: Will persons identified as members or supporters of these groups be refused entry into Sri Lanka?

A: If we come to know that they are in these banned terrorist organisations we will arrest them on landing.

We will keep them in detention and indict them under the law of the land. We will take measures to make sure that they are arrested even if they come on passports with fake names. We will also seek assistance from the Interpol and the security authorities of the respective countries to arrest them. Since we understand that some of them are in India we will seek India's support for arresting them.

Q: The TNA has stated that the ban on these organisations are unjustifiable and the Government should revoke its ban. Your comments?

A: The government cannot do it and that is my personal opinion. If the President as the Head of the State decides to revoke the decision after discussions with the TNA and reaching understanding or undertakings on specific matters, then it may be possible. In my personal view this may not happen.

Q: Do you think that our diplomatic missions in those countries failed to brief the respective governments on their unlawful activities?

A: These are democratic countries and people can exercise their democratic rights. Our missions cannot point an accusing finger at anyone or any organisation as agents or operatives of a banned terrorist movement, without tangible proof. We can now do it because they have been legally banned.

Q: Minister G.L. Pieris has stated that Sri Lanka will not cooperate with the UNHRC inquiry on the purported war crimes.

A: That is precisely the stand of the Government. India abstained from voting on the resolution because India realised the fact that it was highly intrusive and a direct interference in the sovereignty of an independent nation. The same was the stand of many other UN member nations. We are working closely with India as our friendly and closest neighbour to get their advice and on how to handle the situation.

We are holding consultations with them on a wide range of regional and international matters. The relations between the two countries is excellent as it always has been. Even on the fishermen's cross-border issue we want to resolve on a mutually beneficial manner. It is a humanitarian and livelihood problem. We only do not want the fishing resources in our territorial waters depleted. Fishermen on either side have to adhere to international regulations and maritime boundaries.

Q: Reports say that a new envoy is to be posted to New Delhi?

A: Yes. The matter is under consideration. It is very likely that we will be posting a very senior and experienced diplomat to India soon.

Q: Are many more new postings to our diplomatic Missions abroad under consideration?

A: We recently opened three new diplomatic Missions in the African countries. Opening up of more Missions are also under consideration. We have to increase the number of diplomats because we are increasing the number of embassies. So naturally there will be new recruitment and new postings which we will be doing according to the present requirements and the international politics. There will also be some routine changes. Our foreign policy is moulded in terms of the 'Mahinda Chintana - Vision for Tomorrow' and any change to our foreign policy will be done accordingly.

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