|Ban Tamil Tigers and halt extortion - Editorial
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|Author:||Peter [ Sat Mar 18, 2006 3:09 am ]|
|Post subject:||Ban Tamil Tigers and halt extortion - Editorial|
Editorial: Ban Tamil Tigers and halt extortion
Mar. 17, 2006. 01:00 AM
© Toronto Star, Canada
Are members of Canada's 250,000-strong Tamil community being shaken down by Tamil Tiger-supporting extortionists to fund a brutal civil war in Sri Lanka that has claimed 60,000 lives in the past two decades?
That allegation is made by Human Rights Watch in a damning report this week. After interviewing Tamils in Toronto, London, Geneva and Düsseldorf, author Jo Becker concludes that the Tigers and their front groups have stepped up fundraising for a "final war" of secession from Sri Lanka. The report also charges that Tiger supporters are extorting up to $10,000 apiece from families, that entrepreneurs are being hit for as much as $100,000 and those who balk are threatened.
"There's a lot of fear about stepping forward," Becker says.
Rather than express concern about this thuggery, Tamil leaders have reacted in anger, denouncing the report as a smear on their community. "This report makes me sick," says Canadian Tamil Congress spokesperson David Poopalapillai. "It is hurtful for the entire community," says Sri-Guggan Sriskandarajah of the Tamil Eelam Society of Canada.
Maybe so, but extortion hurts, too. Human Rights Watch is a credible international organization. And this report is plausible.
Some Tamils may be victims of ordinary criminal extortion. But terrorist fundraising is a fact of life in this country. Federal authorities suspect that $180 million may have been raised last year.
While many in Toronto's Tamil community of 200,000 support the Tigers and their secession drive, others do not. Yet some in the community fear to criticize the Tigers publicly or to rebuff people who show up demanding money and claiming to represent the Tigers, the World Tamil Movement (WTM) and other groups — and who threaten trouble if they don't get it. For its part, the WTM denies it raises funds for the Tigers.
The new Conservative government should put an end to this criminal shakedown racket. Ottawa has already made it unlawful to raise money in Canada for the Tigers. Yet reports of fundraising stubbornly persist and the police have laid few charges.
The government should now go the next step and place the Tigers and their front organizations on its list of terrorist entities, joining groups such as Al Qaeda, Babbar Khalsa and Hamas. The Tigers certainly qualify as terrorists. They have assassinated heads of state, targeted innocent civilians with suicide bombs, and they recruit child soldiers.
While it is impossible to suppress all unlawful fundraising, banning the Tigers would send the security services and police a signal to push this issue higher up the priority list, and would better equip them to deal with it. It might also embolden Canadian Tamils to shake off intimidation.
Because Tamil leaders are adamant that no legitimate community group is raising funds for the Tigers, they should not object. A get-tough policy will provide better protection from predators for law-abiding citizens in Tamil communities in the Toronto area and across Canada.
Stockwell Day, Canada's minister of public safety, has long advocated strong measures. "Banning the Tamil Tigers will give reassurance to Canadians that this government is serious on the war on terrorism," he said in 2003, when he was opposition foreign affairs critic.
The Human Rights Watch report urges other concrete actions, including creating a special police task force to chase down extortionists, a public drive urging Tamils to report intimidation, and a hotline to receive complaints. It all makes sense. As Tamil leaders would surely agree, it is time to crack down on any extortionists who plague their community.
|Author:||Peter [ Tue Mar 21, 2006 1:45 am ]|
|Post subject:||Place Sri Lanka on terrorist list|
Place Sri Lanka on terrorist list
By Sureni Para, Toronto
@Copyright Toronto Star / Mar. 20, 2006
Ban Tamil Tigers and halt extortion
Editorial, March 17.
Your editorial says Canada should ban the Tamil Tigers. As you know, Canada has failed miserably to convince the Sri Lankan government to consider the federal model solution to the ethnic problem in Sri Lanka. If there should be some action taken, then Canada should place Sri Lanka on the terrorist list as the Sri Lankan government has tortured and killed more than 65,000 Tamils and bombed schools, churches in Tamil areas and made thousands of people disappear.
The government was not even willing to do anything when the tsunami hit the Tamil area and it is disappointing to see a reputed newspaper like the Toronto Star not questioning that but making a biased suggestion to ban the LTTE.
It is time Canada takes a fair stand and condemns the atrocities committed by the Sri Lankan government against Tamils in Sri Lanka.
Canada should play a more active role in bringing peace to that country and should engage both parties of the conflict. Banning one party would only strengthen the Sinhalese extremists to commit more atrocities against Tamils in Sri Lanka.
Quoting the baseless Human Rights Watch report on extortion is not enough.
Personally, I contribute money to help our people back home. It is because of the expatriate Tamils's contribution that Tamils in their homeland are living at least a half decent life.
The Sri Lankan government did not give a penny to the Tamils when the tsunami hit or when people were suffering during the war.
People are still displaced and living in refugee camps; it is the money we gave that keeps them alive.
To say I was intimidated to give money is ridiculous. I don't live in Sri Lanka where I can be raped, killed and thrown into a well by the military. I live in Canada where I am well aware of my rights and responsibilities and I know where to go if I am intimidated. The report is an insult to the whole Tamil community as it portrays us as some bunch of idiots who don't know our rights in this beautiful country.
In any case, I really hope Canada plays a strong role in bringing peace and justice to that country by engaging with both parties without being biased toward the Sri Lankan government which has a long history of committing atrocities against the Tamil people. There would not have been the LTTE if the Sri Lankan government had treated Tamils equally with dignity.
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