12th October 1997

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LTTE un-masked by US Government

The US ban on the LTTE is indeed a major victory in the country’s war against the separatist LTTE. The move coming in the wake of Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar’s successful visit to New York and Washington recently clearly categorises the LTTE as a terrorist organisation unmasking it from the role portrayed by its leaders and the pro-Eelam lobby in the US, as a freedom fighting movement.

No doubt the Oklahoma and New York bombings had their impact but the Central Bank and Ceylinco House bombing in Colombo followed by the Dehiwela train bombing soon after had surely been the death knell rung by the LTTE for itself vis-a-vis international opinion with regard to their activities here. It was apparently not the brutal night killings of innocent Sinhala peasant farmers and their families, nor so much the CTO, JOC and Pettah bombings of a few years ago, but the recent Central Bank and train bombings that came as the last straw for the LTTE as far as world opinion of their cause went.

While US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has ruled out the United States as a safe haven for terrorists with whom she has lumped the LTTE and also spoken about making terrorists of all hues an endangered species prior to their becoming altogether an extinct lot, it was evident that what was done was more in their own national interest rather than as a foil to international terrorism.

However it is commendable for the US to have finally agreed to implement the Lyon Declaration on international terrorism and we hope Canada, Europe and Australia will follow suit. But we are perplexed as to why Sri Lanka has not banned the LTTE yet.

It is argued that there are laws here, like the PTA to deal with the LTTE, but that somehow is not the same as actually banning the Organisation. We don’t even know what has happened to the indictments the Attorney General was supposed to be filing against Velupillai Prabhakaran. Even as we continue to urge the international community to ban the LTTE and prosecute their leaders we remain hemming and hawing ourselves.

India although it was the first country to ban the LTTE does not stand out as the best example of how effectively this has been or can be done. Few if any prosecutions have been made there against known LTTE supporters or other measures taken which we know of to prevent the LTTE from using South India as a base for operations and a safe haven for their leaders and their wounded cadres. The US ban on the contrary makes it a criminal offence to provide funds or other forms of material support or resources in the way of weapons or provision of safe houses to the LTTE or their agents in that country. We must only hope that all these laws will be implemented to the full.

The forthright US ban must come as a heavy blow to some expatriate Tamil groups who have funded this long drawn out war for an illusive Eelam in which not their own but other people’s children are dying if only for them to get a high on seeing the Sinhalese whom they see as enemies getting a kick up their backs.

It was certainly good news for Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar before his departure from Washington D.C. to hear that the US had decided to take positive action to stem LTTE activity in the US.

He can justifiably take much of the credit for his convincing pleas with his US counterpart Albright on this issue. Yet it was not simply as if he had spoken to her and it was done the next day. We have to remember that it was the culmination of a great deal of hard work that had already been done.largely by him. Former US Ambassadors Teresita Schaffer and then Peter Burleigh’s reporting to the State Department had all a part to play. What Mr. Kadirigamar did when in Washington was to drive the message home and cap it all. He has stuck his neck out on behalf of his countrymen. He has no doubt gone beyond the call of duty in the service of Sri Lanka - a united Sri Lanka of one country, one people.

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