No citizenship for Sri Lankan with Tiger links
From Neville de Silva in London
Britain is now refusing citizenship to Sri Lankans with known LTTE links.
Two weeks ago the Home Office informed a Sri Lankan who has lived here for some 15 years that his application for naturalising has been rejected on account of his association with the LTTE.

This is perhaps the first publicly-known instance where a Sri Lankan applicant has been turned down under the Terrorism Act 2000 because of perceived terrorist connections.

This turn of events comes in the wake of the suicide bombings in London a little over two months ago and Prime Minister Tony Blair’s decision to take a tough line against terrorist organisations.

The Sri Lankan Tamil, who does not wish to be identified and lives in East Ham, received a letter from the Home Office informing him that he was not a person of good character and therefore his application for citizenship has been refused.

“I am writing to inform you that your application has been refused on the grounds that the Home Secretary is not satisfied that you meet the requirement to be of good character because we believe you are associated with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) which is currently proscribed in the UK under Terrorism Act 2000,” said Sue Williams, a Home Office official, in her letter the text of which was made available to The Sunday Times.

In order to establish good character applicants for British citizenship are asked, among other questions whether they have “ever been concerned in the commission, preparation, organisation or support or acts of terrorism, either within or outside the United Kingdom” or have “been a member of an organisation which has been involved in or advocated terrorism in furtherance of its aims.”

They are also asked whether they have “ever been concerned in the commission, preparation or organisation of genocide or crimes, including crimes against humanity and war crimes, committed in the course of armed conflict.”
Still another question posed is whether to their knowledge they have “ever been under investigation for any offence relating to terrorism, genocide or to crimes committed in the course of armed conflict.”

Many Sri Lankan Tamils claiming asylum in the UK sometimes claimed to be members of the LTTE fleeing torture and arrest, in order to facilitate their case for refugee status.

If Britain has started a new crackdown on members of banned terrorist groups or those believed to be connected with them, it could jeopardise the chances of Sri Lankans who claimed to be connected with militant organisations.
Although the person whose application has now been refused applied some years ago, the refusal now suggests that Britain is taking steps to refuse citizenship though they could stay here under the ‘indefinite leave to remain’ category, but such visas could be cancelled at the discretion of the Home Office.

The person concerned in this case claims that he has not been an active supporter of the LTTE since he had a disagreement with Anton Balasingham several years ago. Mr. Balasingham is, of course, a self confessed high-ranking member of the LTTE who now holds a British passport.

After the assassination of Mr. Lakshman Kadirgamar, the JVP and other Sri Lankans living here demonstrated outside the Foreign Office demanding that Mr. Balasingham be deported as Prime Minister Tony Blair had threatened to do to radical Muslim clerics preaching violence.

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