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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2709

British MPs and Lords ask why Tamil Tigers are allowed to use UK as a base for terrorism.

London, 10 December, (Asiantribune.com): The House of Commons and the House of Lords are putting pressure on Tony Blair’s government to crack down on Tamil Tigers raising funds in Britain.

Lord Naseby, pin-pointing "that there is continual money laundering in the United Kingdom; that illegal rallies take place under the flags of Tamil Eelam; that bogus charities are being set up; and that TTN is broadcasting Tamil Eelam propaganda in the UK" flouting the British proscription asked: "Is it not the responsibility of the Home Office and the Government in general to make sure that proscription means what it is meant to mean and that it is not just flouted almost daily?"

Lord Howell of Guilford urged the government "that something very firm needs to be done to prevent these people (Tamil Tigers) pursuing their activities in this country or, indeed, anywhere else."

Here are the questions and answers raised in both Houses of Parliament:

Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam

Patrick Mercer, MP for Newark (Conservative) and Shadow Minister for Homeland Security: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what checks are in place of fundraising charities associated with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in the United Kingdom; [99675]

(2) which fundraising organisations in the United Kingdom have been identified as having links to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. [99679]

Mr. McNulty: The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE) were proscribed under Section 3 of the Terrorism Act 2000 in March 2001.

It is an offence to be a member of the LTTE, or provide or show support for it.

House of Commons Hansard Written Answers for 07 Nov 2006 (pt 0001)

Terrorism: Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam

3.23 pm

Lord Naseby asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether, in the light of the recent suicide bomb attacks by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam—LTTE—in Sri Lanka, they will review the proscription of the LTTE in the United Kingdom and enforce it more rigorously.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, we utterly condemn the suicide bombing in Colombo on 25 April. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam is a proscribed organisation under the Terrorism Act 2000. Proscription is a tough power which makes it illegal for an organisation to operate or fund-raise in the United Kingdom. Of course, enforcement of the law is a matter for the police and prosecuting authorities, and we expect them to take these issues extremely seriously.

Lord Naseby: My Lords, is the Minister aware that the Tamil Tigers is still recruiting child soldiers in north-east Sri Lanka; that the suicide bomber was a pregnant young woman; and that the Tamil Tigers still proclaims that it wishes to have peace in that country? Meanwhile, the Minister says that proscription is tough on those proscribed. Is he aware, nevertheless, that there is continual money laundering in the United Kingdom; that illegal rallies take place under the flags of Tamil Eelam; that bogus charities are being set up; and that TTN is broadcasting Tamil Eelam propaganda in the UK? He may say that the issues are dealt with toughly and rest with other government bodies, but is he aware that the proscription is being flouted? Is it not the responsibility of the Home Office and the Government in general to make sure that proscription means what it is meant to mean and that it is not just flouted almost daily?

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, we believe that proscription is a tough power. It makes it illegal for organisations to operate in the United Kingdom. Membership of and fund-raising for a proscribed organisation constitute serious criminal offences.

3 May 2006 : Column 463

LTTE has been proscribed since March 2001—I know that because I took the order through your Lordships' House. We take these matters seriously. There are constant discussions between the Government and the enforcement authorities. What happened last year is a good example of the matters being dealt with exactly as they should be. The Tamil Rehabilitation Organisation, a charity, was closed down as a result of the police and the Charity Commission acting on evidence that funds were being channelled to LTTE.

Clearly, the police and the prosecuting authorities can act only on the information that they have. I am extremely grateful to the noble Lord, who I know has great experience in the field, for drawing the matter further to the public's attention. That is a desirable thing to do, and we need to keep the pressure up.

Lord Dholakia: My Lords, I join the Minister in expressing sympathy for the large number of families affected by the atrocities in Sri Lanka. The noble Lord, Lord Naseby, asks an important question: is there any evidence that members of the LTTE in this country are involved in the type of activities for which the Home Secretary would require additional powers, or are existing powers sufficient to deal with them? Moreover, what sort of information is available to the police about the activities of such organizations?

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, the powers that we have are fit for the purpose. Where there is evidence, the prosecuting authorities will act. Indeed, they have acted in the past, as I have made plain to your Lordships' House. We can act only on information; we cannot act simply on supposition. The police must be fully involved in carrying out investigations and prosecutions.

Lord Howell of Guildford: My Lords, is the Minister aware that there is a lot of concern about the activities of this organisation? Is he aware—I am sure he is—that in the past 10 years there have been more suicide bombings in Sri Lanka, many of which are associated with this organization, than anywhere else in the world? The number far exceeds that in the Israel/Palestine horror, for example. Is he also aware of the revolting practice of planting bombs on little children, giving them flowers to present to visiting politicians and dignitaries and then detonating the bomb so that it kills the child and the dignitary at once—the most sordid and sickening practice that one can possibly imagine? Will he therefore to take to heart the representations that he is hearing today that something very firm needs to be done to prevent these people pursuing their activities in this country or, indeed, anywhere else?

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, the noble Lord makes several good points. I am completely at one with him. It is an appalling practice. It is a tragedy, and it is awful. Of course we take these matters seriously. We constantly discuss the issues with our opposite numbers in the Sri Lankan Government, and they make representations to us to act as firmly as we

3 May 2006 : Column 464

can where there is clear evidence of fund-raising to finance terrorist activities. That is obviously one of our priorities, and we work closely with the police to ensure that that work is carried through.

Lord Monson: My Lords, does the Minister agree that it is the greatest pity that the Terrorism Act 2006 made it a criminal offence for investigative journalists and other writers to interview people such as the Tamil Tigers in their camps, as William Dalrymple did so splendidly a few years ago, thereby allowing them to reveal to the world at large just how fanatical and ruthless such organisations are?

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, we have debated that issue at length. I am not aware that, as a result of the terrorism legislation that we have put in place, we have stopped investigative journalists carrying out their work. We are keen that journalists who have that information and knowledge pass it on to the authorities responsible for cracking down on terrorism.

Lords Hansard text for 3 May 2006 (60503-03)

- Asian Tribune -

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