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Apr-08-2014 13:31printcomments

Post UNHRC Resolution and the Banning of Diaspora Organisations

“The LTTE no longer exists,” said Fred Carver, campaign director at the Sri Lanka Campaign for Peace and Justice. “The Government of Sri Lanka's attempts to pretend otherwise are part of their attempts to stifle domestic dissent and isolate activists.”

Sison J. Michele
Sison J. Michele photo:

(MELBOURNE) - The United States Ambassador Sison J. Michele’s remarks to the Foreign Correspondents Association on April 3, 2014, that although the recently passed resolution on Sri Lanka at the Geneva session wanted to investigate incidents between 2002 and 2009, ‘an independent and credible investigation into all actions, by all parties, for the entire period of the conflict would be good for Sri Lanka’. “There have been many questions about why the time frame of the investigation was limited to this period. It is not because the international community only cares about what happened between 2002 and 2009. In fact, an independent and credible investigation into all actions, by all parties, for the entire period of the conflict would be good for Sri Lanka.

CPA’s Executive Director Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu's view on the UNHRC’s resolution on Sri Lanka and its implications for the country is explained in the sound cloud below. “In terms of the fallout in Sri Lanka I think we've had a very definite foretaste when Father Praveen and Ruki were detained, Jeyakumari is still in detention, there were a whole lot of cordon and search operations in the Vanni and even more detentions, so clearly the government intends to do a number of things. The first thing is to ensure that the flow of information outside with regard to past and continuing violations is curtailed to the point of extinction…”

As Dr.Saravanamutthu said in the sound cloud sixteen Tamil organisations and numerous individuals were banned by the Sri Lankun government as being connected with LTTE. Analysts said the aim of the ban was to effectively muzzle human rights groups within Sri Lanka and punish diaspora organizations that aided the UN’s inquiries ahead of the Council’s vote. Saravanamuttu further said the objective of the ban was “to prevent the flow of information, internationally, regarding the human rights situation in the country at present” and “to de-legitimize the involvement of these banned organizations with the investigation that will follow pursuant to the Human Rights Council resolution”.

“The ban is a very serious and negative development, effectively criminalizing legitimate democratic dissent within Sri Lanka and making it harder to challenge government policies from outside the island,” said Alan Keenan, Sri Lanka Project Director and Senior Analyst at the International Crisis Group. “It appears designed in part to punish those Tamils inside and outside Sri Lanka who organized in support of the UNHRC resolution.

"[The ban] may also be designed to make it more difficult for activists within Sri Lanka to gather and disseminate information about alleged war crimes and other human rights violations, since much of the information that has emerged over the past five years has come through diaspora networks,” said Keenan.

“According to statements by government spokesmen, simply meeting or interacting with members of the newly banned diaspora organizations would be enough for Sri Lankan citizens to be arrested under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA),” said Keenan. “The PTA is already regularly used for arbitrary and often long-lasting detentions of the government's political opponents.”

Rights monitors have made repeated calls on the government to repeal the PTA. Hundreds of journalists, opposition political leaders and separatist suspects have been punished over the years under the 1979 law. In some cases, those detained have languished in remand for 15 years or more without trial. Last month, several prominent rights activists were detained under provisions of the PTA.

Saravanamuttu said that the banned organizations were by no means “homogenous” and that stirring up talk of a revived LTTE movement amounted to scaremongering. Some of the groups have “sympathies and links to the LTTE and [are] openly secessionist in their goals,” he said. “There are others who are moderates and by no means supportive of a secessionist agenda.”

“To lump them all together suggests either an ignorance of diaspora politics or a deliberate attempt to brand them all as LTTE and extremists. In any event, this is contrary to reconciliation and sends a message that the LTTE is actually alive and constitutes some sort of threat,” he said.

“The LTTE no longer exists,” said Fred Carver, campaign director at the Sri Lanka Campaign for Peace and Justice. “The Government of Sri Lanka's attempts to pretend otherwise are part of their attempts to stifle domestic dissent and isolate activists.”

Since the end of the war a number of the banned groups have “made clear their commitment to non-violence”, said Keenan. “If the government has specific and credible evidence that any of the groups or their leaders were in any way involved in financing or encouraging political violence or terrorism, they should make that evidence public and share it with law enforcement authorities in those countries where the groups operate,” he said. “The fact the Sri Lankan government hasn't done this lends weight to the widespread belief that the ban is a political attack on the government's Tamil critics, rather than a legitimate response to a genuine threat.”

The organizations banned include the British Tamil Forum, Canadian Tamil Congress, Australian Tamil Congress, Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam, Tamil Rehabilitation Organization, Tamil Coordinating Committee, World Tamil Movement, Global Tamil Forum, National Council of Canadian Tamils, Tamil National Council, Tamil Youth Organization, World Tamil Coordinating Committee, Tamil Eelam People’s Assembly, World Tamil Relief Fund and the Headquarters Group and the LTTE.

“The substantial effect of an order under this regulation is that all funds, assets and economic resources belonging to or owned by the designated persons or entities remain frozen until they are removed from the designated list,” said a statement from Sri Lanka’s Ministry of External Affairs. “Moving, transferring or dealing with frozen assets without the permission of the competent authority is prohibited. In terms of the regulation, any person who fails to comply with an order to freeze assets is liable to heavy penalties.”

The ministry official did not explain how Sri Lanka, a tiny island, would enforce their ban. How many governments are there in the world that would pay heed to their ban? Still there are people who insist that some form of enforcement is possible. Suranimal Peiris, a Colombo-based pro-government activist said that the ban is a “positive step” toward “combating terrorism” in Sri Lanka and abroad, adding that host countries should “investigate” and “monitor” the activities of the banned organizations. He still believes, in spite of the UNHRC resolution on 27 March 2014 against SL, there are countries who will trust their ban, as the West and India did during the May 2009 Mullivaaikkal Genocide.

Meanwhile, Saravanamuttu said that a lasting resolution to the country's long-running tensions between minority Tamils and the Sinhalese-dominated government could only be achieved through a policy of engagement. “The government must speak to Tamils, whether they are here or not, and engage with them to get their ideas to achieve reconciliation,” he said. That is a far cry from what an average Sinhalese has in his mind; he will never settle for anything short of a Sinhala-Buddhist country with Tamils hanging on them like creepers.

Gordon Weiss is the author of The Cage: The Fight for Sri Lanka and the Last Days of the Tamil Tigers, and who an adjunct professor at Griffith University said that Foreign Minister Julie Bishop outlined a belief that engagement with the Sri Lankan government was the best way to achieve reconciliation, and that government reconstruction in Tamil areas had not been sufficiently recognised. "It is an odd explanation, akin to saying that reconciliation between Aboriginals and white Australia could be best achieved by building roads and bridges, and ignoring deeply held communal beliefs about injustice."

Similarly, building roads and bridges may impress visitors, but it will not redeem the injustices committed against the Tamils. The Sri Lankan government is extremely deceitful. None of the people who visit the villages and interact with the people, especially the displaced ones are impressed by the developments SL did for the Tamils. The roads and bridges may facilitate the easy movement of the military and the tourists, but what good does it do to to the IDPs, who are waiting to go back to their homes? Right now the military is occupying their lands and their properties. Soon they will be transferred to migrating Sinhalese with the Tamils still waiting for their properties.The military operates restaurants, farms and fishing with the help of their relatives and sell their produce below market price, so that the Tamils cannot compete with them. All these will not meet the eye of a casual visitor.



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DiasporaEngager April 9, 2014 6:16 am (Pacific time)

The problem about immigration and the international diaspora is very complex. In fact, millions of people are leaving their home country to go to others countries each year. Even within a country, many people are moving all the time, seeking better opportunities, or trying to adjust to life’s challenges and solicitations. Unfortunately, many people are usually disappointed by what they see after moving, and others are disconnected from people and opportunities in their home country as well as in their host country. At the same time, the Diasporas (people who are living in a country different from where they were born) are usually unknown by many businesses (like you), nonprofits and other organizations that can provide them with their products and service. This global problem impoverishes nations and deprives many organizations from reaching most of their potential market, clients, and customers. To sustainably solve this problem, DiasporaEngager (, the world’s #1 and largest diaspora engagement platform was created! All it takes to start benefiting from the platform is to create an account for your business. We would like you to visit the site and see how it may help your business.

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Sean Flynn was a photojournalist in Vietnam, taken captive in 1970 in Cambodia and never seen again.

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