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 Post subject: French Connection - French police target LTTE
 Post Posted: Wed Apr 18, 2007 2:39 pm 
French police arrest dozens of Sri Lankan Tamils
Raids target LTTE

According to press reports, 14 people were kept in custody, among them, leading personnel of the LTTE, including the LTTE branch chief in Paris, Nadaraja Matheenthiran, alias Parithi, the political chief for Europe, Duraisamy Aravindhan, alias Metha, and the LTTE France finance secretary, Thuraisamy Jeyamoorthy, alias Sinna Jeyan.

By Francis Dubois and Antoine Lerougetel
13 April 2007
Copyright 1998-2007 World Socialist Web Site


French police have arrested several dozen suspected supporters of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in a series of raids launched in the Paris area beginning April 1. Computers, correspondence files, documents, literature and large amounts of cash were also seized in the crackdown.

The police targeted establishments controlled by the LTTE—which has waged an armed campaign for a separate Tamil state in the north and east of Sri Lanka for more than two decades. These included the Tamil Coordinating Committee (TCC) as well as shops, vehicles and the residences of suspected LTTE activists. The TCC is the acknowledged front organisation of the LTTE in France.

While a substantial number of those arrested were detained for just a few hours and released after being interrogated, others have remained in custody. Nineteen appeared in court on April 5. After that, according to press reports, 14 people were kept in custody, among them, leading personnel of the LTTE, including the LTTE branch chief in Paris, Nadaraja Matheenthiran, alias Parithi, the political chief for Europe, Duraisamy Aravindhan, alias Metha, and the LTTE France finance secretary, Thuraisamy Jeyamoorthy, alias Sinna Jeyan.

The crackdown began on April 1 with a dawn raid in which 39 people were arrested. It was followed on April 2, 3 and 4 with raids in broad day light, designed to intimidate the public. The police cordoned off specific areas of Paris like the Gare du Nord and the La Chapelle, where Tamil businesses were searched, and owners, employees and even customers were interrogated. Materials connected to the LTTE such as papers, magazines, CDs videos and books were seized. During these actions, alleged members of the fundraising network of the LTTE in France were interviewed, photographed and videotaped.

The raids have been conducted by forces of the “Antiterrorist Directorate” (SDAT) on the basis of a judicial order issued by magistrate Jean-Louis Bruguière, the main antiterrorist judge in France. Bruguière has been given unprecedented authority to investigate cases deemed to involve “terrorism” and has been working in close collaboration with successive governments.

The LTTE has been under close surveillance for a number of years based on Judge Bruguière’s orders. The French government launched a preliminary investigation in February 2006. The organization has been proscribed and under investigation since May 2006, after it was officially banned by the European Union.

Bruguière had talks in Sri Lanka in 2003 with senior officials in the judiciary. He gave a lecture on the LTTE in Colombo to an audience of army officers and local diplomats at the Sri Lankan Institute of International Relations.

The official justification given for the raids, in the very scarce reports which have appeared in the French media, is that the LTTE had been extorting funds from the Tamil community in France using methods of thuggery and racketeering or, according to the official documents, “extortion, physical violence, illegal confinement.”

On April 5, French anti-terror judges filed preliminary charges against some of those arrested, accusing them of extortion, financing terrorism and “criminal association with a terrorist enterprise,” a charge that permits the conviction of suspects on terrorism charges without any evidence of actual involvement in acts of terrorism. It carries a maximum prison sentence of 10 years.

The latest French anti-terrorist legislation, passed by Parliament in 2005, permits the arbitrary arrest and detention (first for 120 days, but with indefinite and unlimited extensions) of anyone suspected of being vaguely associated with “terrorism.”

The LTTE has so far not been accused of carrying out or preparing any “acts of terrorism” in France. Neither was there any mention by the police of a terrorist threat of any sort.

According to press reports, the SDAT has been working with other anti-terrorist agencies including those of the US, Britain, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Canada and Australia. Newspaper reports also name the FBI and Scotland Yard as providing expert knowledge to the SDAT. Nevertheless, it is the first time that the French authorities have moved against the LTTE in such an open manner. After the LTTE was banned by the British government in February 2001, its operations were partially shifted to France, which became the centre of their operations in Europe.

The latest crackdown appears to be part of an international operation aimed at neutralising the LTTE’s operations worldwide, but especially in Europe. Since the LTTE carried out an air attack on a location in Colombo on March 25, there is reason to believe that the Sri Lankan government has been intensifying its efforts to cut off the LTTE’s funding in order to prevent the organization from purchasing arms.

After President Mahinda Rajapakse took power in November 2005, the Sri Lankan government has been responsible for the collapse of the ceasefire agreement of 2002. This has resulted in the escalation of the brutal oppression of the Tamils. Rajapakse initiated an international campaign to isolate the LTTE as a terrorist organisation. In April 2006, the Canadian government banned the LTTE, and a month later, the EU proscribed the LTTE as a terrorist outfit. The Paris crackdown serves this international campaign of the Sri Lankan Government.

The Sri Lankan government is composed of a coalition of Sinhala chauvinist parties, including the Janatha Vimukti Peramuna (JVP) and the Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU). The Sri Lankan army launched a brutal offensive in 2006, putting entire areas of the north and east of Sri Lanka under military control. It has also been targeting Tamils all around the country, killing arresting and torturing people of Tamil origin indiscriminately, accusing them without proof of being members of the Tamil Tigers.

The LTTE responded to the Paris raids and arrests by circulating a petition to be signed by donors to the LTTE, stating that they had donated voluntarily. It also announced a demonstration at 2 p.m. on April 9 at the Trocadéro in Paris to protest against the crackdown. LTTE supporters from all over Europe were called on to participate. This demonstration was initially authorised by the Paris prefecture but was subsequently banned. The police closed down the metro station to prevent people getting to the rally.

Despite the ban, 400 to 500 people gathered at the Eiffel Tower park, opposite the Trocadéro. They ignored police requests to disperse. Anthony Russel, a Green party councillor for the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, came, reportedly at the behest of the police, to address the crowd and convince them to leave quietly and to organise a rally at a later date.

The LTTE is a political organisation with a separatist perspective, based on ethnicity and communalism. The WSWS opposes this programme and fights in Sri Lanka for the unity of the Sinhala and Tamil masses. Although it disagrees with the LTTE’s nationalist and separatist perspective, it defends the organization’s democratic right to hold a political demonstration against these state attacks.

The methods of the LTTE are undoubtedly thuggish, but the accusations by the French authorities are clearly politically motivated. They have been made to serve the interests of the Sri Lankan government and its army, which are engaged in a systematic campaign of mass assassination of their political opponents and innocent people. This government has been engaged in a bloody war against the Tamil separatists for nearly three decades and practises state terrorism on a far larger scale than the LTTE.

The army and its paramilitary supporters are at present attempting to terrorise entire sections of the population of Sri Lanka. They are engaged in the indiscriminate kidnapping and killing of Tamils, regardless of their political opinions, throughout Sri Lanka.

Anybody who is opposed to the Sri Lankan military’s war against the Tamils is targeted for suppression and physical elimination, as has been experienced by the Socialist Equality Party, the Sri Lankan section of the International Committee of the Fourth International, itself. Last August, a sympathiser of the SEP and well known opponent of the war and of the LTTE was murdered in his house. More recently one of the members of the SEP in the Jaffna area disappeared after passing a military check point.

The LTTE, to our knowledge, has not so far issued any official statement, either in France or in Sri Lanka, concerning the arrests of their members and Tamil residents in France, despite the fact that the raids are common knowledge, not just in Sri Lanka and in France, but throughout the Tamil community worldwide.

The timing and the methods of the Paris raid indicate that it serves several purposes. It is part of an international crackdown on the LTTE and serves the interests of the government in Colombo. It gives support to the brutal war against the Tamils conducted by the Sinhala chauvinist government in Colombo, a war which also enjoys the support of the Bush administration.

Another probable motive for the raids is to boost Judge Bruguière’s and former minister of the interior Nicolas Sarkozy’s anti-terror credentials. Sarkozy is running for president for the ruling Gaullist UMP (Union for a Peoples Movement). Bruguière, who is due to retire in a few months time, announced two weeks ago that he was going to be a candidate in the legislative elections, in the department of Lot et Garonne, also for the UMP.


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 Post subject: French investigate LTTE terror over Tamil diaspora
 Post Posted: Wed Apr 18, 2007 2:45 pm 
French investigations highlight LTTE terror over Tamil diaspora

@ MOD/4/11/2007

Investigations following the arrest of 17 LTTE cadres in Paris on April 1st highlights the terror prevalent among the Tamil diaspora due to the LTTE's harsh methods, Governmental sources said yesterday.

The counter terrorism sub directorate (SDAT) under the Central Directorate of Criminal Police of France arrested 17 key LTTE activists including one French national in and around Paris on early morning on April 1st. The arrest follows investigations carried out for more than a year. The charges include extortion of money from Tamil diaspora in France to finance the LTTE's terrorist activities in Sri Lanka. The investigation had been carried out with bilateral cooperation at operational level with the relevant departments in USA, Canada, Switzerland, Italy, the UK , Netherlands and Sri Lanka.

The arrest had been preceded by raids conducted on LTTE establishments including the Tamil Coordinating Committee Office (CCTF) and the TRO office in France, the humanitarian cover of the LTTE and an important source of funds for the organization. The TTN office, a leading Tamil shop (Makkal Kadai) and Amman Kovil in Paris had also been checked. The investigation was carried out on the authority of Judge Jean Loui Bruguiere who is an internationally renowned expert on counter terrorism and visited Sri Lanka four years ago and Phillippe Coirre, first Vice President in charge of the investigations at the Magistrate's Court of Paris within the framework of a judicial inquiry for criminal conspiracy with a view to preparing acts of terrorism, financing of terrorist enterprises and extortions.

The arrested LTTE terrorist activists are charged with running for several years a vast operation of financial extortion among the Tamil diaspora in France .During 2006 the LTTE has collected more than 6 million euros where each Tamil family was forced to pay 2000 euros every year and business establishments 6000 euros.

The Ellalan Force which is recognised as being part of the LTTE and which carries out executions of LTTE opponents, at the beginning of the year, has issued death threats to the Manager of a Tamil TV channel in Paris opposing the LTTE. In a similar case, the Ellalan Force had killed a Tamil person who had opposed the LTTE, upon his return to Sri Lanka. He had been issued with death threats at his place of residence in Australia.

The LTTE in France exerts violence on families on the diaspora back in Sri Lanka for non payment of contributions abroad, often amounting to assassination or confiscation of possessions and properties. This dominance of the LTTE over the Tamil diaspora has allowed it to collect considerable amounts of money to buy weapons and equipment and transport them to Sri Lanka.

The LTTE's vast network of international propaganda, particularly TV channels, radio stations and community newspapers have helped them to achieve this. The transfer of the funds collected in France are sometimes physically carried out in cash by "suitcase carriers" usually to Switzerland to avoid bank records. The leader of the LTTE's French branch since 2003, Nadarajah Mahintharan alias Parathi and Thuraisamy Jayamoorthy alias Jeya are in charge of money collections in France. Both were among those arrested on April 1st. The investigation has revealed a vast network of local representatives with whom they were working to collect money. The LTTE had developed "collectors" under the supervision of local leaders whose only activity is to extort money and who were allowed 30 per cent of the sums collected as their "salary".


Courtesy - The Island


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 Post subject: LTTE falling in Paris
 Post Posted: Sat Apr 28, 2007 1:36 am 
LTTE falling in Paris, running on a collision course with the French Government

Fri, 2007-04-27 18:46
@ Asiantribune.com


Paris, 27 April, (Asiantribune.com): French police has expressed their utter disappointment to the Tamil university students in Paris for violating the conditions they agreed by turning a 'rally' into a 'protest march.' The students have originally agreed to hold a 'rally' on Wednesday April 25 but the it subsequently turned vociferous with slogan shouting, placards display amounting to 'protest march.'

The permission to conduct a peaceful rally was applied not by the LTTE in Paris but by AETF, the Tamil University Students Organization in France (Association des Etudiants Tamouls de France). Permission was granted on 23 April evening by Paris Police to AETF. The protest march commenced from Republique to Bastille in the city of Paris.

Asian Tribune learns that the LTTE in Paris thereafter interfered and virtually wrested the rally from the hands of AETF, and turned it into an LTTE protest march.

More importantly, it brought attention on individuals leading the Paris LTTE in the aftermath of the arrest and remanding of the leading LTTE cadres including Nadarajah Mathinthiran (Parithy or Regan) the LTTE Head, in France.

Parani, the new head of the France-LTTE was seen leading the rally.

Asian Tribune also learns that the overall organization of the protest was by Siva Sinnapodi and his son Vasantha Rupan. Siva Sinnapodi was earlier a PLOTE cadre. After coming to Paris he joined the LTTE and in the beginning worked in the newsroom of the Tamil Television Network – the LTTE owned television. For some reason or other LTTE was not fully convinced of his loyalty, transferred him to the Tamil Rehabilitation Organization (TRO) office. Now aware that LTTE leadership in Paris does not take him into confidence, he is now trying his best to win them over by organizing the protest, Asian Tribune learns.

His son Vasantha Rupan works as the official Tamil translator in OFPRA - Office Francais De Protection Des Refugies et Apatrides, the French Government office which interviews those claiming political asylum in France. There were reports that he has removed photographs from the Tamil refugees' files and supplied to LTTE for identification. He also used to inform to the LTTE details of asylum seekers who use to declare that they have fled the country because of the atrocities of the LTTE in Sri Lanka. Many Sri Lankans in France have expressed their dislike and opposition over an LTTE operative being kept in a key position as translator, where people apply for asylum.

Reports also reveal that Vasantha Rupan went to Vanni in 2006 and underwent arms training and intelligence wing of the Pottu Amman fame.

These father and son duo were responsible for turning the silent rally into a slogan shouting protest one Asian Tribune learns.

Also Siva Sinnapodi giving an interview to the TTN TV after the conclusion of the rally said that the rally was 'a successful event'. Asian Tribune earlier reported that it had only about 200 people – a record low turnout for the event.

Along with them, Mr. Sivaguru Balachandran, owner of the Tamil Alyam Bookshop, Mr. Kandasamy – proprietor of Tharshana Restaurant and Ratnam Kandasamy of the TTN News Division too were behind the protests. They were earlier responsible for obtaining signatures from Tamil shops in Paris by threat and intimidation to a memorandum condemning the French Police and the French Government.

Previously, on April 09, Sri Lankan youth organizations as well as Indo-Sri Lanka traders Association made arrangements for a mass protest rally to condemn the French Government and the French Police for arresting the LTTE leaders in Paris. Though in the beginning Paris police granted permission for the rally, subsequently they cancelled it. When the police cancelled the permission it gave for the rally, LTTE showed it dismay and as usual was involved with its usual stunt activities by taking groups of Tamils to Eiffel Tower venue. As Eiffel Tower venue is a park and a tourist place, police did not stop those going to the Eifel Tower area.


- Asian Tribune -


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 Post subject: French crackdown
 Post Posted: Mon Apr 30, 2007 1:40 pm 
French crackdown

The LTTE's operations in Europe receive a severe jolt with the arrest of many of its activists by the French police. France has set a precedent. There are indications that at least three European Union countries may follow suit soon.

D.B.S. JEYARAJ
Copyright © 2007, Frontline
Volume 24 - Issue 08 :: Apr. 21-May. 04, 2007


IN the first week of April, the French law-enforcement authorities conducted a series of well-planned and coordinated actions against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Fourteen Tamils of Sri Lankan origin, suspected of being linked to the organisation, were produced at a special counter-terrorism tribunal in Paris and placed in judicial custody under a preventive detention order on April 5. A special four-member panel of examining magistrates filed preliminary charges and ordered that they be held in detention for 120 days pending further investigation.

Under French law, the filing of preliminary charges means that the investigating magistrates have determined that there is strong and concordant evidence to suggest involvement in a crime. It gives the four examining magistrates further time to pursue their probe before they decide whether to send the suspects for further trial or drop the case. The police will be authorised to continue with their investigations and gather more evidence.

Initially, 19 persons were arraigned on multiple charges including "extorsion, violences physiques et sequestration contre des Tamouls installes en France" (extortion, physical violence and illegal confinement against Tamils settled in France). They were also charged with "financing terrorism" and "criminal association with a terrorist enterprise". The LTTE was cited as the terrorist organisation concerned.

Four of the 19 were released unconditionally. Another person was issued a conditional release under judicial supervision. Hence, proceedings will continue against 15 persons.

The courts also authorised the police to search the homes, offices, business establishments, vehicles, and all movable and immovable assets of the detained suspects. The detainees are suspected to have raised funds for the LTTE from Tamils residing in France. Since the LTTE is a proscribed terrorist organisation in France since May 2006 when the European Union issued a ban on it, raising funds for it is a crime. In this case, allegations of extortion, physical violence and illegal confinement have further compounded the gravity of the charges against them.

The investigation into LTTE activity in France was launched in February 2006. In August, a committee of inquiry was formally appointed. Both the police and the prosecutors of the Justice Ministry are involved in the investigation, which is supervised and directed by Sous-Directorate Anti-Terroriste (SDAT), the special anti-terrorist directorate of the French Interior Ministry.

The SDAT interacted with several agencies that are into anti-terrorist operations, while investigating the LTTE. Information was requested, obtained and furnished and compared with agencies in the U.S., the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Canada, Australia and also Sri Lanka. Expert knowledge was supplied by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) of the U.S., Scotland Yard of London and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), Canada's national police force. Police officials from some of these countries were present in Paris when the crackdown was made.

The police made a dawn swoop at 4-00 a.m. on April 1 and took into custody 39 suspected LTTE activists for questioning. The arrests were made from Seine-et-Marne, en Seine-Saint-Denis, dans les Yvelines, La Courneuve, and le Val-de-Marne et le Val-d'Oise in Paris and also from the suburbs.

Acting under instructions of the SDAT, 210 policemen conducted lightning raids on LTTE-controlled establishments and residences of important LTTE activists. Among the establishments raided were the headquarters of the Tamil Co-ordinating Committee (TCC) of France situated at 341, Rue des Pyrénées in Paris.

The TCC of France is the acknowledged front organisation of the LTTE in that country. Other Tamil establishments raided in Paris include the Tamil Television Network (TTN), the Mariamman temple, the Makkal Kadai supermarket, the office of the Eelamurasu newspaper, the Tamil Achagam printing press and the Tamil Rehabilitation Organisation (TRO) office.

Computers, correspondence files, documents, account ledgers, books, videos and pamphlets were seized. Hard currency and cheques for 23,500 euros and 42,000 euros were confiscated from the TCC and TRO premises respectively. The LTTE fund-raising drives usually commence on Friday evening and go on till Sunday evening. About 60,000 euros in cash and 25,000 euros in cheques were found at the residences of activists. Of the 39 arrested, 22 were released on April 1 itself, after preliminary interrogation. The next day, another two were released.

On April 2, another operation was launched at 10-00 a.m. Policemen cordoned off La Chappelle and Marcadet-Poissenniers areas, where the bulk of Tamil-owned businesses (around 60) in Paris are located. The businesses were searched and their owners, employees and some customers were quizzed. Materials and products connected to the LTTE, such as newspapers, magazines, CDs, videos, DVDs, books and photographs, were seized. Twenty people were taken in for further interrogation. All but two were released that evening.

April 3 and April 4 also saw the police continuing the crackdown. The "Gare du Nord" area, known as "Little Jaffna", came under particular scrutiny. Alleged members of the LTTE's fund-raising network in France were interviewed and videographed at their homes. Houses, vehicles and other assets belonging to them were also photographed and videographed. One person was detained on each day. A total of 19 suspects were produced in court on April 5.

It is important to note that no Tamil of Sri Lankan origin was used for translation purposes during the investigation or the arrests. The exhaustive wiretaps were translated by Tamils of Indian origin. Substantial numbers of Tamils from Puducherry are domiciled in France. This action prevented leaks to the LTTE, it is said.

Among those remanded are the LTTE's chief in Paris, Nadaraja Matheenthiran alias Parithi alias Regan. Also arrested was its politics and propaganda chief for Europe, Duraisamy Aravindhan alias Metha. While Parithi has a French passport, Metha holds an Italian passport.

Others include LTTE-France finance secretary Thuraisamy Jeyamoorthy alias Sinna Jeyan aka Jeyan, "Makkal Kadai" manager Sellakkolunthu Ravikulan, Parithi's private secretary Sinnathamby Suthakaran, and TRO accountant Kandiah Mohandas Also remanded were LTTE-France sports secretary Venthan, business secretary Mohan, temple trustee and TRO secretary Vinayagamoorthy alias Bala Master aka "Thongal", TCC office administrator Mahesh, and Parthiban, who owns a farmhouse on the outskirts of Paris. The farmhouse was allegedly used to confine Tamils illegally and extort money from them. Mahesh is said to be the brother of senior LTTE commander "Col." Bhanu, while Mohan is said to be the sibling of former Eelamurasu editor Gajan, who was shot dead at La Chappelle some years ago.

An interesting development after the raids was that several Tamils came on television and boldly stated that they were intimidated by the LTTE and forced into giving money to it. Some displayed receipts given in the name of the LTTE-France branch and carrying the printed signature of Tiger supremo Velupillai Prabakaran.

Crackdown no surprise

The action by the French authorities may have come as a surprise to many in Sri Lanka and abroad. However, it was hardly a surprise to those who have observed the irrational and self-defeating conduct of the Tigers within and outside Sri Lanka. An insular, arrogant hierarchy in a state of disconnect with reality is rapidly leading the movement downhill. This is becoming clearly visible now.

The Tamil population in Paris is said to number around 60,000 while the overall number of Tamils in France is reportedly 70,000. Of them, 25 per cent are hardcore LTTE supporters, while 25 per cent are firmly anti-LTTE. The remaining 50 per cent do not have any hard positions on the LTTE.

The LTTE in Paris has reportedly used threats, intimidation, physical violence and illegal confinement to suppress perceived anti-Tiger activity and coerce Tamil people into giving money. The job of raising funds was outsourced to Tamil gangs; 20 per cent of the money collected was given as "commissions" to them. The two prominent gangs were the "Vennilaa" group and the "Mukkaabalaa" group.

Every family had to pay a minimum of 2,000 euros annually. Businesses had to pay 6,000 euros. But there were special collections from time to time when massive amounts were demanded. It is estimated that six million euros was collected annually and 20 million euros in each special collection.

Much of this money was paid in instalments. The gangs as well as hyperactive LTTE activists heaped pressure on potential victims to extract money. They often went with rods, sticks and bottles to houses to intimidate people. Dealing out a few blows, using foul language, threatening harm to family members in Sri Lanka, and damaging vehicles and furniture were the oft-used tactics.

The worst was abducting people and holding them illegally. A farm was purchased on the outskirts of Paris for this. Tamils abducted by the gangs or LTTE activists would be taken there. Huge sums of money would be demanded from the family members of the victims for their release.

The victims detained at the farm were beaten and tortured. It is astounding that the LTTE thought it could replicate in Europe what it was doing in Sri Lanka's North-East.

The Tamil diaspora hesitated to complain to the police for a variety of reasons - fear of consequences, lack of confidence in the police, and a sense of misguided loyalty to the Tamil cause. But the bubble burst when a Tamil man, who was beaten up severely at the farmhouse, confessed to his physiotherapist how he got his injuries. The physiotherapist alerted the police and soon the SDAT came into the picture. Its officials were able to convince the victim and two other fellow victims to lodge a "confidential" complaint in November 2006.

Paris is also home to many Tamil dissidents who hate the LTTE and its methods. There was constant friction between the two sides. The anti-LTTE Tamils are less assertive and ill organised.

One young Tamil who told a TV interviewer that he was forced into giving money to the LTTE had to go into hiding after that as the Tigers began gunning for him. There is a Tamil restaurant that dissident Tamils often frequent. Its owner, a Tamil film producer, was assaulted twice for letting anti - LTTE people patronise his establishment.

With such a reservoir of anti-Tiger opinion available, it was but a matter of time before the anti-terrorism unit made contact with some dissidents. With the police unit promising security and confidentiality to them, much needed information became available to the law-enforcement authorities.

Some incidents in recent times had begun to worry the anti-terrorism directorate engaged in investigating the LTTE. On October 1 last year, TRO secretary Vinaygamoorthy was arrested on the France-Switzerland border by the Swiss police. He had 18 million euros in hard currency with him. Though he claimed that it was TRO funds raised for Tamil refugees, it was clear that the money was for the LTTE coffers. Vinayagamoorthy was released then but was arrested in the April 1 raid. In the eyes of the French police, the LTTE and the TRO are one and the same.

Another troubling incident was the burglary on March 19 at the house of Luxmy, a Tamil writer and editor of the alternative journal Uyirnizhal. Over a 100 videos, DVDs, books, tapes and documents were taken away. This was no ordinary burglary, as only material of political importance was stolen.

It has been the practice of anti-LTTE Tamils to meet thrice a year for an event called "Ilakkiya Santhippu" (literary gathering). Thirty-three such meetings have been held since 1989. All documentation, tapes, and so on regarding these meetings were with Luxmy, and these have now been stolen. Since these meetings are attended by anti-Tiger activists, it is feared that the LTTE could now identify and target them.

Although the LTTE was rapidly sliding downhill in popularity charts, the flashpoint came because of an event in Sri Lanka. The LTTE overreached itself when it announced to the world on March 26 that it had an air wing capable of precision-bombing a high-security target and returning to base after flying nocturnally an incredible distance at low altitude (Frontline, April 20). The Western world, shaken by the 9/11 events, could not tolerate a non-state actor like the LTTE having such capability.

France's recent investigations have also unearthed evidence of a French connection in the LTTE air wing. It is suspected that some small aircraft and spare parts were bought in France. It is also believed that some pilots and technicians obtained training in France. Some high-ranking French nationals were reportedly involved in arms sales to the LTTE. Against that backdrop, action had to be taken against the LTTE.

Tiger protest

Meanwhile, pro-Tiger elements in France were reportedly engaged in a rear-guard action in the aftermath of the arrests. A petition is being circulated for signatures from Tamil people stating that they had given money willingly to the LTTE and not under duress or pressure. A protest march and rally were scheduled for April 9 at the Parvis Des Droits Trocadero square. LTTE supporters from all over Europe converged on Paris.

The police, which feared a law and order breakdown, revoked permission for the rally. The Trocadero train station was also closed. Yet more than a thousand LTTE supporters gathered at the Eiffel Tower park, defying the ban, to protest against the arrests.

Whatever the confrontational antics of the Tiger supporters, the LTTE network in Paris has received a severe jolt. An operation of this scale targeting the LTTE has not been conducted in any Western country before. The LTTE network in France was the hub of the organisation's operations in Europe.

France has set a precedent. There are indications that at least three European Union countries may follow suit soon.


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