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"To us all towns are one, all men our kin.
Life's good comes not from others' gift, nor ill
Man's pains and pains' relief are from within.
Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."
Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C 

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Selected Writings - Dr. Victor Rajakulendran

Human Rights Watch Report &  Sri Lanka Foreign Minister
[see also Human Rights Watch Report: The Conclusion & Some of the Facts]

23 March 2006

�I understand that today the Human Rights Watch will release a groundbreaking study on the penetrating extortion regime developed by the LTTE. The study examines the LTTE�s extensive efforts to amass illegal funds in North America and Europe through the Diaspora in order to fund their operations in Sri Lanka and abroad including illicit military capacity�It would be extremely useful if prestigious institutions like the IISS (International Institute for Strategic Studies) could analyse this report and make recommendations on international action to reverse this trend. We also expect the Governments of Western countries to pay heed to the valuable recommendations being made by the Human Rights Watch.�  Hon. Mangala Samaraweera, Foreign Minister of Sri Lanka, Speaking on the 15th. of March 2006 at the IISS London

More than a week has passed now, since the Human Rights Watch (HRW) released its report based on research conducted in London, U.K., and Toronto, Canada on March 16 titled �Funding the �Final War� LTTE Intimidation and Extortion in the Tamil Diaspora.� While the Tamil Diaspora has reacted angrily because of the amount of anguish the malicious allegations made in this report has created, the Sri Lankan bureaucracy has made use of the report to malign the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

According to this report, the 600,000 � 800,000 strong Eelam Tamil Diaspora is living under siege with a fearful mentality due to the intimidation, harassment, extortion and even physical violence they are subjected to by the LTTE.

First of all, HRW may not know the fact that none in the Tamil Diaspora can be members of the LTTE. To be a member of the LTTE, one has to take an oath that he/she is prepared to sacrifice his/her life for the sake of freedom. Those who fled the country and became part of the Tamil Diaspora did not want to do this in the first place. Therefore, even if the Tamil Diaspora is living under siege as the HRW report claims, the members of the Tamil Diaspora could not have been harassed, extorted or physically harmed by the LTTE, but only by someone else in the community.

Secondly, the HRW report quotes 83 telephone interviews and e-mail contacts as evidence for its author�s claim. This is only 0.01% of the 800,000-strong Tamil Diaspora. Therefore HRW�s attempt to make recommendations to the Western governments, the LTTE and the Tamil Diaspora based on this small sample exposes the lack of credibility of the researcher who planned and conducted this study.

HRW claims that the interviewees were selected through journalists in the respective countries. These journalists cannot be from the majority of those Tamil journalists who support the Tamil cause as well as the LTTE, which is fighting for the Tamil cause. Therefore, the author of the HRW report must have contacted the very few (not even a handful) of anti-LTTE Tamil journalists to organise the interviewees for this study. These anti-LTTE Tamil journalists have a well-known interest in discrediting the LTTE, so no wonder that the interviewees arranged by these anti-LTTE Tamil journalists all had a story to tell.

The Hon. Foreign Minister of Sri Lanka, Mr. Mangala Samaraweera who I quoted above, spoke with unseemly haste on the day before the report was officially released to endorse its conclusions, and made a request that the Sri Lankan government expects Western countries to pay heed to the valuable recommendations being made by the HRW. By his actions and enthusiastic endorsement of the report, Minister Samaraweera has made it open for anyone to suspect that HRW has wittingly or unwittingly allowed itself to be manipulated by the Sri Lankan regime.

The HRW report, which claims that the content of this report is based on interviews held amongst the Tamil Diaspora, surprisingly have made sweeping statements like - �some experts believed that 80 to 90 percent of the LTTE�s military budget came from overseas sources�.�, without giving any evidence. The report is full of unsubstantiated statements like � �Tamils in the West have been subject to death threats, beatings, property damage, smear campaigns, fabricated criminal charges, and even murder as a consequence of dissent. Although incidents of actual violence have been relatively rare, they reverberate strongly within the community and effectively discourage others from expressing views that counter the LTTE�.

The author of the HRW report has stated that the initial contacts with the people interviewed for this study were made through journalists. At least 4 journalists� names have been mentioned in the report and in some of these cases it is alleged that these Tamil Diaspora journalists have learned that publishing or broadcasting information that is critical of the LTTE can carry a heavy price. The report carried an account of how a prominent Tamil journalist DBS Jeyaraj was beaten up in a car park in Toronto, Canada for writing against the LTTE in his Tamil weekly.

The author also complains in the report that, although this journalist reported the incident to the police and he had information about the identity of his assailants, no one was ever arrested for the crime. Is the author trying to imply that the Canadian police is also on the LTTE side? The author also has stated that the majority among the Tamil Diaspora supports the LTTE, while some people are anti-LTTE.

Therefore, the author should realise that, like the clashes that happens in Europe amongst football fans, clashes between LTTE supporters and others who are against the LTTE sometimes happen in Canada, without the LTTE being involved in any way. The failure of the Canadian police to arrest anyone for this crime clearly indicates how inconsequential the police considered this incident. That author uses an incident the law enforcement agency of Canada did not take seriously as evidence for the existence of LTTE intimidation in the Tamil Diaspora leaves ample room for questioning the credibility of the rest of the allegations made in the report.

Another journalist mentioned in the report is Selliah Nagarajah, described as a political columnist and law lecturer at the University of Western Australia. A search in the staff directory of both the Universities of Western Australia and Western Sydney reveals that there is no such lecturer in either of these Universities.

The author has made an allegation in the report that a �final warning� was given by a group called Ellalan Padai, to Selliah Nagarajah by distributing handbills at a Hindu temple in Melbourne.  The author should realise that this allegation was made in the �Asian Tribune� Website in which Nagarajah was the Sydney correspondent at that time. In the original allegation that was made in the �Asian Tribune,� a photograph of the alleged handbill was published and it was alleged that the handbill was found to be ready for distribution at the Hindu Temple in Melbourne. If the handbill was ever distributed, the Melbourne Hindu public would have come to know whether the threat was really made or not. To the contrary, no Hindu member of the public has seen this handbill. The author of the HRW report using such a bogus allegation made in an anti-LTTE Website to prove that there is LTTE intimidation in the Tamil Diaspora further undermines the credibility the author has built up over the years working for the well-respected organisation, the Human Rights Watch.

The author has also mentioned about the repeated death threat the London-based Tamil Broadcasting Corporation�s (TBC) program director, V. Ramraj, is alleged to have received to substantiate the claim that there is LTTE intimidation in the Tamil Diaspora. Does the author know that Ramraj earlier lived in Switzerland and escaped to Sri Lanka when the Swiz police was trying to arrest him for credit card fraud and various other criminal activities? Does this author also know that Ramraj was brought to London by Sri Lankan agents to run the TBC radio station to carry out their propaganda? Can this author hide the fact that the Swiss police recently arrested the same Ramraj, who spearheaded the anti-LTTE rally during the negotiations between the LTTE and the Sri Lankan government in Geneva in February? Does this mean the Swiss police are also pro-LTTE? This author relying on such criminals� stories and getting associated with such criminal elements of the Tamil Diaspora does not reflect well on the credibility of Human Rights Watch.

The author of the HRW report is supposed to be the advocacy director of the Children�s Rights Division at HRW. Children�s human rights have been violated to the maximum in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka holds the record for the highest number of sexually abused children in the world. Even several Buddhist monks have been convicted for sexually abusing children. Suspected LTTE under-aged cadres who were supposed to have being rehabilitated at a place called Bindunuweva were massacred by a Sinhalese mob in 2002, aided and abetted by the police who were supposed to be protecting these kids.

A church full of Tamil refugee children and school children playing in their school playground was massacred in 1996 by aerial bombing by the Sri Lankan airforce bombers. Has this author adequately investigated these human rights violations committed by the Sri Lankan government and written any reports on a subject which is coming under the author�s direct responsibility at HRW? If not, the author spending time and resources of HRW in producing the report under question now on a sensitive issue, particularly at a time there is a propaganda war going on between the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE, is politically motivated, biased and vindictive.

The Tamil Diaspora is deeply disappointed that HRW has wittingly or unwittingly allowed itself to be manipulated by the Sri Lankan regime for its propaganda.


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