Australia extends ban on Tamil Tigers

Australia    The Australian government on Tuesday extended its ban on the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE) for a further period of three years.  

The announcement was made by Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop who said that the threat of terrorism in Australia is “real and enduring.”

Australia decided to maintain the Tamil Tigers as a proscribed organisation after the federal government updated its listing of terror groups and their financiers last week. It also proscribed Al Sahab and the Irish Republican Army (IRA) as terrorist organisations.

“The Australian government remains determined to combat and prevent terrorism in all its forms,” said Bishop. She added that the ban has been extended to prevent fund raising by Tamil Tigers for terrorist activities in Australia in compliance with the United Nations Security Council convention.

Australia, which is home to a large Tamil community, debated the banning of the Tamil Tigers over many years.  In June this year, during his visit to Australia, Sri Lankan External Affairs Minister G. L. Pieris urged Brendan O’Connor, the Australian Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, to extend ban on the Tigers.

Despite its military defeat in Sri Lanka in 2009, Tamil Tiger diaspora groups have not abandoned the concept of a separatist state. Several groups still continue to work clandestinely raising funds and are involved in propaganda activities particularly in Australia, Canada and Europe.

During the past four years, several Tamil men were arrested and prosecuted on charges of aiding, abetting and raising funds for the Tamil Tigers in countries including the United States, Switzerland and Norway.

As recently as last October, a US court sentenced a 32-year-old Canadian Tamil of Sri Lankan origin to two years of imprisonment for acquiring aviation equipment, submarine and warship design software, night vision equipment and communications technology for the Tamil Tigers.

The Tamil Tigers were identified as terrorists and banned by 32 countries including Canada, the US and the European Union during their three decade reign of terror in Sri Lanka. The organisation that began as a guerilla group fighting from the Northern jungles of Sri Lanka was labeled as the “deadliest terrorist organisation in the world” by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation. It is also the only terrorist group in history that had land, air and sea military wings.

The Tigers, notorious for suicide bombings and political assassinations,  were declared a terrorist organisation by the United States in 1997 and by Canada in 2006.

After a suicide bomber assassinated the Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, India banned the organisation in 1994.

Last year, India extended its ban on the Tamil Tigers for a further two years saying that the organisation continues to adopt a “strong anti-India posture and poses a grave threat to the security of Indian nationals.” (Khaleej Times)

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