The Sunday Leader

Petition To Remove LTTE From EU Banned List

By Dinouk Colombage

Victor Koppe

The European Union ban of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam has been called illegal and a breach of international law. A petition put forth by LTTE sympathisers argues that under international humanitarian law the EU and its member states have a duty to refrain from involvement in the conflict.
It further calls for an amnesty to be granted to all those involved with the LTTE following the conclusion of the war.
It is presented in the petition that ‘international humanitarian law prevents intervention of third states with an armed conflict between a non-state actor in the pursuit of self-determination and a state.’ The listing of the LTTE as a terrorist organisation can only be seen as an intervention according to the petition. The petition however fails to recognise the role that the Norwegian government played as a mediator. The Norwegian government intervened in an attempt to broker a lasting peace deal and despite its failure the role of Norway was an intervention of a third party.
The petition which is to be presented to the president and members of the general court of the European Union argues that the LTTE cannot be considered a terrorist organisation as defined by in ‘Article 1 (3) of the Council Common Position 2001/931/CFSP.’ As they cannot be considered a terrorist group. Victor Koppe, the lawyer for the LTTE activists in Europe, states that group cannot be banned. The petition further states that the actions carried out by the LTTE do not amount to offences under national criminal law. It concludes by explaining that as the LTTE was militarily defeated in 2009 and are no longer active in Sri Lanka a review under article 1(6) of the Council Common Position 2001/931/CFSP would have removed the group from the list.
Quoting UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Terrorism, Dr Kalliopi K. Koufa, the petition states that ‘under the law of armed conflict, acts of war are not chargeable as either criminal or terrorist acts.’ Koppe is stating that criminal law cannot be applied to armed conflict. The law of armed conflict, however, states that military forces are permitted to engage only in acts necessary to accomplish a legitimate military objective. It also limits attacks strictly to military objectives. The LTTE’s continued attack on civilian targets throughout the conflict proscribes it from the law of armed conflicts.
The petition, which has been presented to the European Union, details the manner in which the ban has undermined the ‘political struggles of the LTTE.’ Tamils in Europe have apparently been subject to persecution by the authorities. This has been brought on by the ban that exists. This has failed to acknowledge that despite the LTTE being a banned organisation throughout Europe they continue to be allowed to demonstrate in public places. If the Tamils residing in Europe have been subjected to persecution it appears unlikely that it is due to any of them being sympathetic towards the movement.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs explained that they were in the process of studying the petition. ‘Once we have looked over this petition we will draft a suitable reply,’ he further explained. Does the defeat of the LTTE militarily require a continual ban on the organisation? He refused to answer stating that until it has been properly studied they cannot comment on it.

Interview With Victor Koppe
Q: You say that listing the LTTE as a terrorist organization by the EU is illegal; however, they have been recognized globally as a terrorist group. They have also carried out a lot of their fundraising in Europe which went towards the armed conflict. Would lifting a ban allow them to further the goals of an organization viewed internationally as a terrorist group?
A:
It was after two decades of non-violent Tamil resistance to anti-Tamil oppression by the Sri Lankan state that the LTTE emerged in 1976 with the aim to fight for Tamil justice and national self-determination through armed struggle. After its military defeat in 2009, the LTTE’s political wing pursues the same aim through peaceful, non-violent, political means. The 2006 EU proscription was contrary to international law in part because the LTTE was a party to an internationally-mediated peace process with the Sri Lankan state, seeking a negotiated settlement to the ethnic conflict.
Q: You have said that the ban has resulted in Tamils in Europe being persecuted. However, LTTE sympathizers have been protesting continually around European nations, most recently in England. Despite being a banned organization they are allowed to wave their flags and protest in public areas. Where are they being persecuted and how?
A:
These protests do not change the facts that Tamils are in fact prosecuted in The Netherlands, Germany, France, Switzerland, Italy, etc., solely for (financially) supporting the legitimate struggle of the Tamils in Sri Lanka.
Q: You draw attention to international law proscribing intervention of a third state. The LTTE allowed and supported the intervention of Norway. Why are they now condemning the intervention of the EU?
A:
The Sri Lankan State and LTTE’s mutual assent to Norwegian mediation of the Sri Lankan peace process was a joint decision which invited constructive engagement of a third party in the transition from armed conflict to peace talks, and which reinforced the parity of esteem necessary between negotiating parties. On the contrary, the EU ban further polarized the negotiating environment by criminalizing the LTTE and was a factor which abetted the dissolution of the peace process into armed conflict.
Q: You have stated that on 29 May 2009 the LTTE announced it would focus on achieving its goals through political means. Has the LTTE put forth a political party that would contest in Sri Lanka?
A:
That is a question for the LTTE itself.
Q: You compare the LTTE to the European armed resistance groups in World War II. The LTTE were fighting for a separate homeland but on occasions attacked civilians. Are these actions of a resistance group?
A:
Alleged LTTE attacks on civilians must be assessed on a case-by-case basis given the absence of meaningful investigations, Sri Lanka’s culture of impunity and the existence and state support for multiple paramilitary groups active in all areas of Sri Lanka. As a general matter, armed actors which target civilians under conditions of armed conflict violate humanitarian law and should be held accountable by a competent judicial body.
Q: Article 6(5) Protocol II to the Geneva Convention calls for amnesty to be granted to all those that participated in the conflict after the conflict is over. The LTTE and its supporters are now calling on war crimes trials to be held involving members of the ruling government. Do these actions contradict the calls for amnesty to be granted to members of the LTTE?
A:
No. By January 2009, around 300,000 Tamil civilians were packed into a small strip of beach and shelled for 5 months. Around 40,000 civilians died. The Tamil Diaspora’s request for a post-war retributive justice tribunal is not dissimilar to calls for international criminal justice after the Rwandan genocide, or after armed conflicts in East Timor and Sierra Leone. As to granting LTTE amnesty, virtually all of the LTTE’s senior leadership was killed in battle or after their surrender. A policy of amnesty and reconciliation without justice is unlikely to deter such a massacre from recurring in Sri Lanka.

7 Comments for “Petition To Remove LTTE From EU Banned List”

  1. NOBEE PERERA

    AL QAIDA AND HESABULLA WAITING FOR THE JUDGEMENT

  2. Chandralal Colombage

    I continue to be baffled by the arguments propagated, not only by lawyers but by members of the public attempting to justify and empathise with the actions of the LTTE. In simple terms, here was a group of people, under the guise of freedom fighters, who held the country to ransom for almost 30 years. In that period they carried out so many pre-meditated attacks on civilians. I draw your attention to the bombings at Central bank, innumerable buses (carrying civilians, who else). Did these people deserve to die? Did they mount any offensive on this group?

    In a democracy, people are free to voice their dissent. But not so free as to impinge on the other person’s right to live a peaceful life. The LTTE did just that.

    The security forces of a country are there to protect their citizens from any attacks on their lives. Make no mistake, the security forces were carrying out their duty in defending the people by repelling the aggressor. The best form of defense is often, attack.

    While there have been indiscretions committed by the armed forces, it does not and should not detract from the atrocities carried out by the LTTE. It is inconceivable that the LTTE is being excused for the mayhem caused by them, merely because they were fighting for a cause. No cause is justified when your neighbour who is innocent, has to bear the ultimate cost.

    Let us not pussyfoot around the fact that the LTTE is and was a terrorist organisation that carried out violence in most parts of the country and created an environment where people were continually looking over their shoulder in fear; where the breadwinner, when he/she left home that morning, wasn’t reasonably sure that they would return home to feed their families.

    I agree wholeheartedly with the comment by Victor Koppe (as quoted above), “As a general matter, armed actions which target civilians under conditions of armed conflict violate humanitarian law and should be held accountable by a competent judicial body.”

    This must apply unequivocally to the terrorists, the LTTE.

    • raf

      In a democracy, people are free to voice their dissent NOT IN SRILANKA
      where is the proof, terrorist will ,go and live in the north and east and you see yourself

  3. love2beTRAITOR

    WHATS THE POINT ANYWAY? LTTE is abolished from sri lanka, they can never ever be a fighting force in Sri lanka. thats all it matters. its upto the EU to accept them or not, not our problem.

  4. Chandran

    The Western Alliance can never win a war against terrorism as long as they are helping terrorism secretly. The should show their genuine interest and assist the countries to face against terrorism. In case of LTTE terrorism and LTTE terrorists they are not. The Ltte terrorists actively engaged all sorts of activities against Sri Lankan Govenment and people under the banner of Western countries. These countries have fully supported them to do what tey want. Therefore, as long as this double standard has they never win a war

  5. karna

    Nobee perera ! wake up , don’t try to compare LTTE and al- qaida , now the world know who you guys are , the time will change one day wait and see . you guys better seek a lawyer to protect your war criminals , and wait the charge will change as genocide doesn’t matter how long it takes , may budda help you , long live Sri lanka

  6. Let me answer the question,” Has the LTTE put forth a political party that would contest in Sri Lanka?”
    Mr. J. R. Jayewardene, the then Prime Minister, became the first Executive President on 4 February 1978. Before the 1977 General Election the UNP also sought a mandate from the people to adopt a new Constitution. The sixth amendment of 08-08-93, prohibits against violation of territorial integrity. Further the Tamil homeland is under Military rule with full impunity.
    Hence the Tamils abroad living in the UK have formed a political party and it is registered in the UK as one of the major political parties.
    Ref: http:registers.electoralcommission.org.uk
    The said major political party in the UK, People’s Front of Liberation Tigers is now one year old and one can visit the party website; http://www.pflt.org
    Tamils abroad, except for those wrong ones are convinced that,” Ceasefire lead to Reconcillatio; Genocide to Separation”

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