Tamils - a Trans State Nation..

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Home  >Tamils - a Trans State Nation > Struggle for Tamil Eelam  > Indictment against Sri Lanka > Censorship, Disinformation & Murder of Journalists    > A Response to the Toronto Star

Censorship, Disinformation & Murder of Journalists

A Response to Mr.Haroon Siddique,
Editor Emeritus, Toronto Star

Canada, 5 October 2000

Dear Mr.Siddiqui,

This refers to Toronto Star's column (When a war comes to our shores" - September 28,2000). Overall the column is well written and balanced. But surprisingly you too fell for the usual innuendoes directed at the LTTE. You used the epithet "terrorist" which you could have easily avoided for the simple reason that yesterday's terrorists are today's Heads of States. And you know better than me who they are. The BBC never describes the LTTE as "terrorists"! They use the word "rebels" to describe the LTTE which is fair enough.

There are also a few factual errors. Let me list them for your perusal.

(1) "The LTTE has waged a campaign of terror, recruiting child soldiers and teenage girls who are brainwashed into becoming suicide bombers" is a highly exaggerated statement.

The LTTE is not waging a campaign of terror; on the contrary it is waging a conventional war with conventional arms against a conventional army of 150,000 strong.... The LTTE does not recruit child soldiers as a matter of deliberate policy. The fact is hundreds of boys and girls who have lost either one or both the parents are joining the queue to enrol themselves as fighters. Others do so to avenge the death of close relatives by the Sinhala army. Yet others out of conviction. Mind you the Tamils are a numerically smaller nationality and to fight government forces twenty times their number is no fun. So suicide attack is considered the best form of defence. A sort of protective armour in the battle against the government. Some suicide attackers are 28 -32 years old. If you want to say they are all brainwashed, you may say so, but that is not true.

(2) "In 1994, President Chandrika Kumaratunga offered the LTTE a devolution package. It refused."

This is factually incorrect or I may be permitted to say a very misleading statement. The talks between the LTTE and Chandrika's government were on from end of 1994 to March 1995. During this period no devolution package was placed before the LTTE. The first proposals were tabled in parliament by Chandrika Kumaratunga in August 1995. A diluted version of the devolution proposals was taken for debate in August 2000. But it was never presented to the LTTE, though the latter rejected it.

(3) "No government is ever likely to agree to separation" - here again the stand of the LTTE has been distorted.

The LTTE has repeated said that they are prepared to consider ANY ALTERNATIVE POLITICAL STRUCTURE that will meet the aspirations of the Tamil people. The aspirations of the Tamil people were propounded at the Thimpu talks held in 1985 in Thimpu. It is a safe bet as you state that "radical devolution is the best possible outcome". A con-federal constitution on the Canadian model will go a long way to satisfy the LTTE and the Tamil people.

(4) "Funds are collected by an umbrella organisation called FACT"

This statement is false. FACT is not in the business of collecting funds except an annual dinner in aid of the Tamil Refugee Organization. In fact FACT does not have even receipt books.

(5) "Both are listed by the U.S.State department as front organization for the LTTE, which is branded a terrorist organization"

Here again the use of the term "branded" is an exaggeration and an unwarranted insinuation. What the US has done is to "designate" LTTE as one of the foreign terrorist organizations. What this means is that LTTE cannot raise funds to procure arms, but it is perfectly legal to raise funds for humanitarian relief like for example medical relief. The activities of the LTTE are not banned in USA and the National flag of Tamil Eelam is hoisted on every important event.

For your information, LTTE is banned only by just three countries in the world. Beside USA, they are India and Sri Lanka. That is the rest of the 183 members of the UNO have nothing against the LTTE. As for India - the ban is only symbolic, since the LTTE does not operate in India. But the 60 million Tamils across Palk Strait do support the LTTE, including political parties and Members of Parliament. It is also a known fact that the Defence Minister of India sympathises with the Tamil cause purely in his capacity as a human rights activist fighting for the rights of oppressed people all over the world.

(6) "It has been alleged that 6,000 to 8,000 Tamils trained in guerrilla camps have slipped into Canada"

It is amazing how a journalist of your calibre also fell for this type of lousy propaganda. The Tamils who ended up in Canada are in one-sense "cowards" and how can anyone then call them trained guerrillas? That will be an insult to the real guerrillas who are fighting a war of liberation. The RCMP and the CSIS are no fools to let 6000 to 8000 trained guerrillas to slip into Canada.

(7) "Toronto Police also allege that Tiger supporters raise funds through welfare scams, drugs, credit card and passport frauds, and human smuggling". You have rightly posed the question "why are police not cracking down on such illegal activities....."

The simple answer is there is no such welfare scams, drugs, credit card and passport frauds, and human smuggling. This does not mean that there are no Tamils indulging in some of these activities on an individual basis like you find in any other community in Canada. But for your information, the Tamil Canadians in the short span of about 15 years have progressed by leaps and bounds in every sphere of educational and economic activities quite out of proportion to their numerical strength. For example Tamil students constitute more than 30% of the combined Ottawa and Carlton Universities student population. So is the University of Waterloo.

Finally your statement "Not all of what you read and hear about this complex issue is true. Some of it is part of the propaganda war between the Sri Lankan government" is perfectly true as far as the Sri Lankan government is concerned. But it is not true as far as Tamils are concerned. Our resources to wage a propaganda war are very limited compared to the Sri Lankan government which can dip inside state coffers at will. Thanks for writing about a bloody war without a witness.

Yours truly

V. Thangavelu



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