What is wrong with the EU’s evaluation of the conflict in Sri Lanka?

On 18 September 2006 the German police raided a demonstration at the Brandenburger Tor and picked out all boards on which the Tamil speaking demonstrators had written (in German): “The EU ban of the LTTE promotes the war in Sri Lanka”. Evidently it was forbidden to demonstrate against the EU. However the French police did not intervene at a demonstration organised by Sinhala extremists at Trocadèro in Paris at about the same time, on September 10, 2006, when the demonstrators carried boards saying (in French): “Enforce the EU decision to ban the terrorist organisation LTTE from Sri Lanka”? The answer is self-evident: The Sinhala extremists’ writings are law abiding, being supportive of the EU ban. Now we understand the latest police intervention in Paris on April 1, 2007. French police simultaneously raided on 1 April 2007 the Paris office of the Tamil Rehabilitation Organisation, the TTN Television station, the office of the Tamil Coordinating Committee and the Hindu Temple in Paris. In a crackdown on Tamil Tiger activities, French police has cancelled the permission granted earlier to hold a protest rally in Paris condemning police arrest of LTTE cadres. The protest rally was scheduled for 9 April from 2 PM to 5 PM at Trocadéro in Paris. Only Sinhala extremists are allowed to demonstrate at that place, we know now.

What is the reason for these raids? The LTTE is accused for extorting money from individuals and business people. Are the arrests of the LTTE activists in Paris a clear indication that the European Union is turning the LTTE proscription into action without confining it into mere words? The EU classified the LTTE as terrorist organisation on 29 May 2006. Are the police acting in the interest of the EU or the Sri Lankan Government? It seems at a first glance to be in the interest of both, but let us note that Magistrate Jean-Louis Bruguière who is investigating the LTTE’s terrorist activities in France was recently in Sri Lanka and met Sri Lanka’s political leaders and heads of intelligence agencies. This co-ordination of Sri Lankan governmental with EU interests, we have pinpointed earlier. The EU decision was highly controversial and – under pressure by the USA – finally proclaimed allegedly in the interest of the EU, but it echoed above all the interest of the Sri Lankan Government. This Government is one party of the conflict. The EU’s decision was therefore clearly partial. Tamil speaking people and many European intellectuals lost confidence in the political competence and will for justice of the EU in this because of this EU action. How is it possible that the EU affiliates itself with Sinhala extremists’ views?

To legitimise the crack down on the LTTE office in Paris media in France just before the crackdown highlighted several incidents of “extortions”. These propaganda actions are connected very much to rival groups to the LTTE who profit from the EU decision and exploit it fully for their ends. This we could foresee and we warned of it before the EU decision was made. Still worse, if Tamil civilians tell the truth that they voluntarily have given money to the LTTE, they will be punished. A voluntary money contribution to a terrorist organisation is a serious seditious crime committed against France and also an act of aiding and abetting terrorist activities in French soil. Revealed donators are therefore compelled to lie about their generosity and turn their generosity into something else, to an extortion of money. The reality is that the majority of Tamil speaking people is supportive of the LTTE and continues to give money despite the risk of being put in jail for 15 years. Why is the majority supportive of the Tigers? The LTTE is the only party that sticks to the election program from 1977 that demanded a separate state for the Tamils. In a democratic island wide election this program made the TULF to be the largest opposition party in Parliament for some years. Moreover, the LTTE is the only organisation from 1987 onwards that defended the Tamils in the North and East against the attacks of the Sri Lankan Armed Forces and the Indian Forces. Finally, the LTTE initiated cease-fires and peace proposals were all rejected by the Sri Lankan Government. The LTTE has won the confidence of the Tamils who believe Veluppillai Pirapakaran’s famous adage “The methods of our struggle may change, but the aim not”. The other Tamil parties’ guide for its documented practice is: “The methods of our struggle may change and the aim also”. How can the EU and the Lankan Government believe that it can suppress the LTTE, which has such strong support of Tamil speaking people – not only in Lanka and in exile but also in Tamil Nadu?

Further, the present policy by the EU criminalises the LTTE and removes any possibility of influencing it with dialog by trying to force it underground. The LTTE office in Paris being an international secretariat of the LTTE was known from the 1980s onwards to have cultivated a dialogue with politicians, human rights activists, religious organisations and researchers from all over the world. It was really an international centre. The contacts, which the office cultivated, affected its own policy. It learned from these contacts to consider questions of human rights and to argue rationally for its political aims based on knowledge and research. It reported home. One of the feedbacks from home was that the LTTE office in Paris was entrusted to sign the International Conventions of Human Rights in the name of the LTTE. From that time on human rights activists could make the LTTE morally responsible for its actions by reference to these Conventions! All these possibilities that open up in a dialogue are now destroyed by a dull, shortsighted, sycophantic and populist policy of the EU that demonstrates only naked power. The EU has enforced its ban indeed, according to the wishes of Sinhala extremists who are encouraged to shout and write on boards “Death to Separatists!” at Trocadéro.

Peter Schalk (09.04.07)

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