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April 4, 2014
The go ernment this wee! banned the "iberation Tigers of Tamil #elam and 1$ other Tamil %iaspora organi&ations under the '( )ecurity *ouncil +esolution 1,-,, which sets out strategies to combat terrorism and terrorist financing. )i/teen groups were designated as terrorist groups and front organi&ations in an order signed by the #/ternal Affairs 0inister 1.".2eiris and a ga&ette notification is e/pected to be issued to that effect in the near future. *ustomarily, it is the 2resident who is also the 0inister of %efence who has authority to designate terrorist groups. That the e/ternal affairs minister, who is meant to handle international affairs of the go ernment, signed the decree on domestic security may add to confusion o er the o erlapping powers of the *abinet portfolios. 3hy 2rof. 2eiris signed the 4ill could well be e/plained by its intended international implementation. He will now ha e to get the western democracies to follow suit, which is howe er a tall order. The 16 groups that ha e been designated are: "iberation Tigers of Tamil #elam 5"TT#6, Tamil +ehabilitation 7rgani&ation 5T+76, The 4ritish Tamil 8orum 54T86, *anadian Tamil *ongress, Australian Tamil *ongress, Transnational 1o ernment of Tamil #elam, Tamil *oordinating *ommittee, 3orld Tamil 0o ement, 1lobal Tamil 8orum, (ational *ouncil of *anadian Tamils, Tamil (ational *ouncil, Tamil 9outh 7rgani&ation, 3orld Tamil *oordinating *ommittee, Tamil #elam 2eople:s Assembly, 3orld Tamil +elief 8und and the Head;uarters 1roup. A proscribed group The "TT# has been a proscribed group since 1<-= and the ban was temporarily lifted in 1<=- as part of the >ndo? "an!a peace accord. >t was banned again in 1<<= after the bombing of the %alada 0aligawa and the ban was suspended in 2001 during the peace tal!s between the "TT# and the +anil 3ic!remesinghe administration. >t was banned again in @anaury 200< and the ban remains effecti e to date, though the "TT# itself was annihilated in 0ay 200<. The "TT# is also a banned terrorist group in >ndia since 1<<4, in the ') since 1<<=, and in the 'A, *anada, #' and 0alaysia. Therefore, the latest decree does not change the status of the organi&ation.
The intended target of the latest pronouncement is not e/actly the "TT# but 1$ other %isapora groups, who ha e shared an allegiance of arying degree to the #elam cause. 3hile some groups such as the Transnational 1o ernment of Tamil #elam are born out of hardcore Tamil Tiger operati es, some others such as the *anadian Tamil *ongress 5*T*6 ha e been moderate. The *T*, in fact, supported 1en. )arath 8onse!a, the common 7pposition candidate during his ill fated presidential bid. Tamil %iaspora itself is a disparate group. "umping all of them together is defeating the intended purpose of the go ernment initiati e itself. 3hile the western go ernments, whose law enforcement agencies , that ha e monitored those groups and found little incriminating e idence against them, would iew the )ri "an!an initiati e as a witch hunt and are unli!ely to cooperate. 7n the other hand, the moderate Tamils who had been targeted by the said initiati e would further distance themsel es from the )ri "an!an )tate. Also, )ri "an!a is not in a position to campaign for an ambiguous initiati e li!e this, gi en the international concerns o er its human rights record. The incumbent regime lac!s both credibility and legitimacy to demand the western democracies to ban the %iaspora groups and to free&e their financial assets. >n order to pursue the western go ernments to ta!e action, )ri "an!a should be able to pro ide incriminating e idence against those groups, implicating them with financing and supporting terrorism in )ri "an!a. 5That those groups had shared information on rights abuses in )ri "an!a with *allum 0acrae or @onathan 0iller is not a compelling enough reason.6 Howe er, apart from a disputed claim o er the resurgence of the "TT#, )ri "an!a had failed to con ince either the discerning )ri "an!ans, or the international community of a credible security threat posed by those non )tate actors. Therefore, )ri "an!a will ha e to show e idence. There again, the reser ations o er the credibility of the local agencies would be raised, gi en the contro ersial nature of the recent arrests such as that of +u!i 8ernando and 8ather 2ra een. The bottom line is that in the absence of compelling e idence, any of the western democracies or our neighbour, >ndia is unli!ely to follow up the )ri "an!an decree. )econd, )ri "an!a has not only miscalculated the limits of its diplomatic persuasion, it has under estimated the strong democratic alues in the 3est, which would stand on the way of arbitrary actions of the host go ernments. )ome of the groups such as the 4ritish Tamil 8orum, *anadian Tamil *ongress and Australian Tamil *ongress ha e become part and parcel of the ci il society of the western democracies. 3hile the )ri "an!an 1o ernment had a historical procli ity to debase the ci il society and loc! up its acti ists, such conduct cannot set a precedence in the host countries of those %iaspora groups, where strong human rights guarantees ser e as a deterrent against impunity of the )tate. +esolution 8or instance, radical >slamic cleric Abu Batada fought a legal battle that lasted for years against the 4ritish Home 7ffice which wanted to e/tradite him to @ordan to face charges of terrorism. A !nown hate preacher, Abu Batada:s defence was that he would be subCected to torture in @ordan. This wee!:s ban on 16 front groups was announced under the '( )ecurity *ouncil +esolution 1,-,, thereby e/ploiting the legal regimes of the global war against terrorism. The resolution calls for a greater cooperation to combat terrorism. >t as!s the member )tates to ta!e appropriate
measures to ensure that the asylum see!ers had not planned, facilitated or participated in terrorist acts before granting refugee status. 8urther, )tates should ensure that refugee status was not abused by the perpetrators, organi&ers or facilitators of terrorist acts, and that claims of political moti ation were not recogni&ed as grounds for refusing re;uests for the e/tradition of alleged terrorists. >t also emphasi&ed the need to enhance the coordination of national, sub?regional, regional and international efforts to strengthen a global response to that threat to international security. (onetheless, the decision to designate a foreign terrorist group is the sole discretion of the said, the member )tates, which it would arri e at based on erification and calculation of the threat by their own domestic agencies. Howe er, for the moment, )ri "an!an decision is unli!ely to ha e any impact internationally. "ogic This should bring the discerning )ri "an!ans to the sinister logic of the proscription of the 16 groups. All politics is local. The go ernment, which had increasingly become insular, is trying to tame and subCugate local rights acti ists. The latest go ernment decree would threaten the local human rights acti ists and (17s who ha e been wor!ing together with Tamil %iaspora groups on the issues of accountability and Custice . The latest go ernment initiati e also aims to cut off the flow of information out of )ri "an!a. )uch a law would ma!e a moc!ery on some of the go ernment initiati es such as the presidential commission on disappearances, by scaring away witnesses and rights acti ists. #;ually disturbingly, the latest decree lea es room for abuse, thereby enabling the security apparatus to indulge in a witch?hunt against the dissenting oices of the regime. Also, the decree comes into effect only days after the '( Human +ights *ouncil mandated the 7ffice of the High *ommissioner for Human +ights 57H*H+6 to in estigate the alleged iolations of international human rights and humanitarian law in )ri "an!a. The go ernment:s decision has the dangerous propensity to frighten the )ri "an!an Tamils and rights acti ists from sharing information with the 7H*H+. )hould 2illay disregard the go ernment:s decision and accommodate the locally proscribed groups in her in estigation on )ri "an!a, the go ernment could later delegitimi&e the process. That could well be the logic of the latest decree as well.
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