As the trial of Suresh Manikkavasagam, the LTTE leader in Canada, reached a climax, 'The World', a pro-LTTE newspaper has begun publication.
Like Radio Asia, The World, is the newspaper arm of the Canadian Asian Broadcasting Corporation (CABC). Although CABC projects that it is an impartial group, they are Eelamists. During the past few weeks the CABC networks have been fully supporting the LTTE position on the Suresh Manikkavasagam trial.
The hearings of the trial took place on March19-27 at 361, University Avenue (the Federal Court of Canada and is expected to go on till June 1996.
According to well-informed sources, if the Canadian government wins, Suresh will be deported to Sri Lanka. The source added, "But this deportation is unlikely and Suresh might end up permanently in prison here unless and until another safe country is found. If Suresh wins, the state could appeal and the hearings will take at least one more year.
Suresh has been arrested under Canadian national security certificate (40:1). The LTTE has hired very famous and senior lawyers to fight for Suresh, who is allegedly responsible for diverting at least US $ 1 million to the LTTE per month.
In addition to his own lawyers, a team of American and European lawyers are advising the LTTE. On behalf of Suresh, Ms Barbara Jackman, Canada's top immigration lawyer has made headway.
Professor Peter Schalk from Uppsala University, Dr. Dagmar Hellman-Rajanayagam of the German Institute in London, UK are among the expert witnesses who testified in the case. It appears that the issue now is to determine whether the LTTE is a terrorist organization or a freedom movement. The case is really a tough one for the Canadian government. Several university professors have been hired by the LTTE to argue the case. There has been popular and electoral pressure on the Canadian government, too.
According to a Canadian Tamil source, "If the judgment is favourable to Suresh, that will have a very positive impact on the LTTE . Many Sri Lankans have questioned why the Government of Sri Lanka has not taken an interest and at least proposed experts on terrorism like Professor Martha Crenshaw, Bruce Hoffman or Paul Wilkinson to testify.
The police sources in Canada say that the LTTE and its sympthaizers are raising upto $ 1 million a month. According to metro police detective Paul Clark, a member of the Asian crime task force in suburban Scarborough the LTTE is the leading fund raising group in that country.
But, the Tamil Eelam Society of Canada, a front organization for the LTTE denies it as usual. As the controversy boiled, Canada's Solicitor General, Herb Gray said that the Canadian law may be changed to allow the government to prosecute anyone who raises money for terrorist activities. Amidst pressure from LTTE-like groups the US will shortly pass legislation to prevent LTTE-type groups from operating in the US.
Gray indicated that Canada considers the LTTE a terrorist organization. Other "terrorist" organizations according to the Canadians are the IRA, Kurdish insurgents in Turkey and HAMAS.
The President of the Tamil Eelam Society Sam Duraisamy said that about $120,000 raised by the society in the past 18 months all went to non-political charity, according to a newspaper report in Canada. But, the Canadian intelligence monitoring the LTTE very closely over the years, say that this is false.
The LTTE is not officially banned in Canada. The LTTE's refugee and rehabilitation arm - TRO functions with the Tamil Eelam Society and the powerful LTTE umbrella organization FACT.
Many expatriate Sri Lankans have called on the Sri Lankan Foreign Office to play a more active role in dampening the efforts of the LTTE overseas. Some have proposed that the Embassies shift their classical role in foreign policy to meet this new threat which is mounting every day.
Although the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has taken some steps in this direction, it has to develop an integrative and a multi-pronged strategy to meet this growing security threat.
Meanwhile news has reached Colombo that the LTTE has opened offices in South Africa and Botswana. The LTTE fund raising and propaganda activity is detrimental to Sri Lanka at two levels - economically and militarily. Except at a few missions, like in Washington, counter-LTTE activity is yet to be developed.Go to the Fifth Column