GTF Hiding Behind HR Issues To Promote Terrorism
By Camelia Nathaniel
After the defeat of the LTTE in Sri Lanka, the constituent organizations that funded the LTTE from overseas reorganized themselves very rapidly. These constituent organizations transformed from an operational organization that supported terrorism into lobbying against aid and trade to Sri Lanka. For defeating one of the world’s most brutal terrorist groups, the LTTE remnants wanted Sri Lanka punished. Their message changed from campaigning for separatism to campaigning for an international war crimes inquiry. They spoke of genocide and atrocities, events that only the LTTE systematically perpetrated on Sinhalese and Muslims but their guilt and shame led them and their supporters to accuse their opponents of perpetration.
To conduct their campaign more systematically, they wanted an organization to coordinate global activity. The LTTE leadership created the Global Tamil Forum (GTF) led by Fr. S.J. Emmanuel. The GTF grew out of the British Tamil Forum (BTF), an umbrella organisation of a number of UK based Tamil Diaspora organizations established in 2006. The aim of BTF was mustering support of the expatriate Tamil community and local politicians for creating a separate and a mono ethnic Tamil state.
In most Western countries including the UK, the Tamil expatriates had created a labour force and more importantly a vote base for local politicians. This situation has been cleverly exploited by GTF, thus creating a conducive political environment and a funding base for them to strengthen their network. GTF and its associates closely work with two other LTTE factions – the Nediyawan-Irumpurai Group and Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam – to exercise constituency and electoral pressure.
Both GTF and BTF created sub structures - Tamils for Conservative Party (TCP) and Tamils for Labour Party (TLP) to lobby for them not only in the UK but also in Europe and other Western countries.
The brain behind the formation of the GTF is Fr. S. J. Emmanuel, a close associate of Velupillai Prabhakaran and Veerakathy Manivannan alias Castro, the head of the Wanni based LTTE international Secretariat. Due to his intellectual and religious background, Fr. Emmanuel was able to reach the international community as a religious dignitary. Fr. Emmanuel was a key trainer for the LTTE. At Eelam House in Long Lane, London, Fr. Emmanuel worked with LTTE activists led by Arunachalam Chrishanthakumaralias A. C.Shanthan, the LTTE – UK leader. At the Colonel Kittu Political College in Wanni, Fr.Emmauel worked with Castro instructing LTTE cadres of the International Secretariat. It is well established that Fr. Emmanuel is a Tamil extremist engaged in a vicious propaganda campaign against the Sri Lankan government targeting the Tamil expatriates, foreign governments and international organisations over a period of time.
Although he lived overseas since the mid 1990s, Fr. Emmanuel visited Sri Lanka during the peace talks and met the LTTE hierarchy and worked with other prominent leaders such as Castro, and held secret discussions.
The genesis of the Global Tamil Forum can be traced back to the ‘World Tamil Forum’ held at the Crown Plaza Hotel in London on 26 March 2009 where a resolution was adopted recognizing “that the Tamil people have mandated the establishment of a free, sovereign state of Tamil Eelam (in Sri Lanka) as the only enduring solution.” Furthermore, this conference recognized that the “Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) is the authentic representative of the Tamil people”.
Nine months after the defeat of the LTTE, when the GTF was formed the Sri Lankan authorities were shocked to see Prime Minister Gordon Brown gracing the occasion. To Colombo, not only did the British government endorse the political discourse of the GTF but gave political oxygen for the LTTE to revive. The inaugural General Meeting of GTF was held on 24 Feb 2010 and a GTF conference was formally inaugurated by the British Foreign Secretary David Miliband MP, and was joined by Shadow Foreign Secretary, William Hague MP.
Many in Sri Lanka considered Hague a friend but Miliband was not trusted because when the LTTE was about to be vanquished Milband called for a ceasefire. Alistair Burt MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and Liberal Democrats Shadow Foreign Secretary Ed Davey were also present. In addition to Parliamentarians, civil leaders and academics, at The Gladstone Room in the British Parliament, 40 delegates met for the formal inauguration ceremony and general meeting that was held over three days in London, UK.
GTF never spoke of the LTTE ethnic cleansing of Sinhalese, Muslims and Tamils, the LTTE prisons that tortured thousands of Tamils including rival group members and supporters, and bringing to justice the overseas supporters and financiers of terror.
The GTF leaders crafted a document describing the roles and responsibilities of the President, Board, and other Officials related to operating any offices of GTF. The document said: “GTF Board may from time to time decide to establish office or offices to enhance its operation. GTF Board shall approve the location, duration and the terms for any such office(s).” Tarnished globally as notorious terrorists, the LTTE wanted to white wash its image. As the head of GTF, Fr. Emmanuel was appointed and Joan Ryan was appointed as Chief Executive Officer(CEO) of GTF.
A British politician, she was MP for Enfield North between 1997 and 2010, and is a member of the Labour Party. The parliamentary private secretary to Andrew Smith , as well as a senior whip, she was from 5 May 2006 to 29 June 2007, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for nationality, citizenship and immigration at the Home Office. She had particular responsibility for ID cards and passports, the Forensic Science Service, refugee integration, E-borders, extradition and judicial cooperation, the Criminal Records Bureau, Home Office research and science, improving regulation, and design and green issues.
In May 2009, Ryan had claimed more than £4,500 under the Additional Costs Allowance for work on a house she had designated as her second home. In February 2010, based on an audit report, Ryan was asked to repay £5,121 mortgage interest. In 2012, The Independent newspaper reported that, “at least 10 attempts have been made from computers in Parliament to remove information about Ryan’s expenses claims and a further 20 efforts to delete the information, some from her constituency of Enfield, have also been recorded in Wikipedia’s logs.
The very fact that a British politician joined a premier LTTE platform shocked the security and intelligence services. The email below by the GTF communications chief, also a British national demonstrated that the GTF was very well endowed. The GTF sources of funds remain under investigation.
‘From: Stuart Drakes email@example.com
Dear All, I apologise for not contacting you earlier. As I am sure you are all aware, I have joined Joan Ryan in the GTF Office here in London. I look forward to working with you all in the future as we seek to promote meaningful reconciliation in Sri Lanka and the alleviation of Tamil suffering. In the London Working Group meeting at the end of August, we discussed the provision offeed back to you, the GTF board, on the work of the office. In light of this, please find attached copies of our introductory parliamentary brief, the Hansard transcript of Foreign and Commonwealth Office Questions on 14th September, which details the questions and answers posed on Sri Lanka, as well as the follow-up Parliamentary Bulletin. We will send you regularly other key documents and we will update you every month with a summary of the Office’s key activities. If you would like any further information or you have any suggestions, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
Best wishes, Stuart., Stuart Drakes
Research and Communications Officer, Global Tamil Forum’
The campaign contributions and the manipulation of the minority votes reinforced by the recruitment of British politicians, enabled GTF to exercise significant constituent pressure on the UK government. Even before the formation of GTF, the LTTE was able to exercise electoral pressure on British politicians. Although the Western media portrayed the then UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband’s mission to Sri Lanka on April 29, 2009 as a humanitarian mission, it was in reality motivated by his desire to win 300,000 Tamil votes. A leaked May 2009 cable from the US Embassy, London quoted Tim Waite, a Foreign Office team leader on Sri Lanka, explaining Miliband’s intense focus on the plight of the country’s Tamils in terms of UK electoral geography.
According to a cable in early May 2009
1. After giving a brief overview of UKForeign Secretary Miliband’s and a British Parliamentary Group’s separate visits to Sri Lanka, Foreign Office Sri Lanka team leader Tim Waite and Desk Officer Sharon Diaz said May 7 that the UK plans to continue its “concerted drive to achieve a fully inclusive political settlement.” Turning to next steps, Waite said the EU Troika is visiting Sri Lanka next week, and the UK hopes this will maintain ‘sustained pressure’ on the Sri Lankan Government. Miliband and Kouchner plan to jointly host an ‘informal’ meeting on the margins of the Middle East meetings taking place on May 11in New York. Miliband also plans to raise Sri Lanka with USG officials during his May 12 visit to Washington. Additionally, Waite said the UK supports a special Human Rights Council session on Sri Lanka, and, according to Waite, HMT has decided to support the USG position delaying Sri Lanka’s proposed Stand-By Arrangement with the IMF. Waite said that with UK elections on the horizon and many Tamils living in Labour constituencies with slim majorities, theUKGovernment is paying particular attention to Sri Lanka, with Miliband recently remarking to Waite that he was spending 60 percent of his time at the moment on Sri Lanka. (End summary.)
2. (C) FCO Sri Lanka team leader Tim Waite and Desk Officer Sharon Diaz told Poloff May 7 that the civilians caught in the conflict zone remain the UK’s primary concern in Sri Lanka, followed by humanitarian access and addressing IDP needs. The UKGovernment has provided GBP 7.5 million (USD 11.25 million) since October 2008, including Prime Minister Brown’s recent pledge of GBP 2.5 million (USD 3.75 million) in additional support.
Miliband and Kouchner Visit
3. (C) Waite described Miliband and French Foreign Secretary Kouchner’s April 29 visit as ‘good,’ though Miliband was ‘disappointed’” that the Sri Lankan Government did not permit Swedish Foreign Secretary Bilt to join the visit. Waite said Miliband’s May 1 statement to Parliament highlighted the three-fold purpose of his visit: “to highlight the need to bring the conflict to an end in a way that minimizes further civilian casualties; to press the case for the humanitarian relief effort to be ratcheted up, as the UN and EU have been calling for; and to make clear the need for a long-term political settlement that meets the aspirations of all communities in Sri Lanka.” These remain the UK’s primary objectives and were reflected in Miliband and Kouchner’s joint article following the visit.
4. (SBU) The UK continues to press on five specific humanitarian points: the need for visas to be issued swiftly to international humanitarian staff; the subject of travel permits for staff working on approved projects inside Sri Lanka; the need for full access to IDPs as soon as they have crossed the front line and the monitoring of all stages of screening; the need for a proper resettlement program with specific deadlines to fulfill the Government’s commitment to have 80 percent of IDPs resettled by the year’s end; and, to allow the distribution of sufficient food and medicine to meet the needs of civilians trapped in the conflict zone .
Special Envoy Des Browne Finally Makes It to Sri Lanka
5. (C) Waite said a cross party group of MPs visited Sri Lanka May 4-5 at the Sri Lanka Government’s invitation, including the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy for Sri Lanka Des Browne, the February 2009 appointment of whom the Sri Lankan Government has rejected. Browne’s visit was allowed by the Sri Lankan Government on condition that Browne was visiting in his capacity as an MP sitting on the cross party parliamentary group, which the UK agreed to. In their May 6 statement, the parliamentarians echoed the same themes as Miliband. Waite said they had found the situation in the IDP camps to be a ‘little bit better,’ but ‘not nearly as good as it should.’ Waite also reiterated that theUKGovernment still acknowledges Browne as the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy, noting that Browne had been doing a lot of outreach to the Diaspora community resident in theUK.
6. (C) Browne is currently in India, where Waite confessed he was having trouble getting meetings with the Indian Government’s political level, presumably because of the elections underway. Waite characterized the Indians as ‘ambivalent and unwilling to undertake any heavy lifting on Sri Lanka because it was ‘too sensitive’ an issue during the elections.
7. (C) The UK plans to continue its “concerted drive to achieve a fully inclusive political settlement,” Waite said. The EU Troika is visiting Sri Lanka next week, and the UKhopes this will maintain ‘sustained pressure’ on the Sri Lankan Government. Miliband and Kouchner plan to jointly host an ‘informal’ meeting in New York on the margins of the Middle East meetings on May 11 (NFI). Miliband also plans to raise Sri Lanka with USG officials during his May 12 visit to Washington. The UK also supports a special Human Rights Council session on Sri Lanka, and, according to Waite, HMT has decided to support the USG position on delaying Sri Lanka’s proposed Stand-By Arrangement with the IMF.
8. (C/NF) Waite said that much of HMG and ministerial attention to Sri Lanka is due to the ‘very vocal’ Tamil Diaspora in the UK, numbering over 300,000 and who have been protesting in front of Parliament since April 6. He said that with UK elections on the horizon and many Tamils living in Labour constituencies with slim majorities, the Government is paying particular attention to Sri Lanka, with Miliband recently remarking to Waite that he was spending 60 percent of his time at the moment on Sri Lanka.
The GTF is a conglomerate of Tamil organizations, many with LTTE historical and current links. The Founding Member Organisations of GTF were:
(1) The British Tamil Forum (BTF)
(2) The Canadian Tamil Congress (CTC)
(3) The Australian Tamil Congress (ATC)
(4) The House of Eelam Tamils, France (HET)
(5) The European Tamil Union (ETU)
(6) The Norwegian Council of Eelam Tamils (NCET)
(7) The Swedish Tamil Forum (STF)
(8) The Danish Federation of Tamil Associations (DFTA)
(9) The Tamil Relief Fund (TRF)
(10) New Zealand Tamil Society
(11) Wellington Tamil Society
(12) United States Tamil Political Action Council
Over the course of time, the constituents of the GTF changed. While some of these organizations are legitimate community organizations, others were not. Due to LTTE infiltration, they had engaged in terrorist propaganda, fund raising and procurement, activities proscribed under international and domestic laws. The links to terrorism are significant in some cases. For example, the Director Communications of the Canadian Tamil Congress (CTC) SahilalSabaratnam was serving a 25-year sentence in a US prison and another member of CTC SathaSarachandran was serving a 26-year sentence in a US prison. In addition to David Poopalapillai, a designated person under UNSCR 1373, the CTC Executive Director Danton Thurairajah is identified as one of the four major terrorist fund raisers in the US reporting to LTTE US Chief KarunakaranKandasamy, currently in a US prison.
The GTF and its constituent members took a significant hit when the GTF was listed as a terrorist entity under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1373. In addition to the Global Tamil Forum designated as a terrorist entity on March 20, 2014, three of its constituents designated are the British Tamil Forum, Canadian Tamil Congress, Australian Tamil Congress.
The constituents of GTF are under investigation.
The Global Tamil Forum’s constituent in Malaysia, Tamil Forum Malaysia (TFM) claimed that it raised 1 million Malaysian Ringgit for ‘humanitarian efforts in northern Sri Lanka and Sri Lankan refugees’ in July 2011. As GTF did not use this money for the stated purpose in Sri Lanka, there is an international investigation into how this money was spent. In addition to GTF leader S.J. Emmanuel and GTF Spokesman Suren Surendiran, alongside were President of Tamil Forum Malaysia, Dr Iyngkaran, Datuk Seri Dr S.Samy Vellu, Malaysian Government’s Special Envoy for Infrastructure to South Asia, Malaysian Members of Parliament and Senators, academics and business entrepreneurs. The GTF’s US partner, USTPAC, is an umbrella organization of 16 Tamil expatriate organizations in the United States. Some individuals and organizations were tainted with links to terrorism. They are currently under investigation both in the US and elsewhere.
GTF Successes and Failures:
One of the first high profile meetingsFr. Emmanuel was able to secure was to meet with the former US Ambassador to Sri Lanka and Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Robert Blake, who met a delegation from GTF led by Fr Emmanuel at the US State Department on March 28, 2011. The GTF delegation included President of the US Tamil Political Action Committee (USTPAC), Dr Elias Jeyarajah, Mrs. Grace Williams (USA) and SurenSurendiran (UK).Under Fr. Emmanuel’s guidance, the GTF has successfully influenced a number of politicians from various political parties in European countries as well as the United States, Australia, Canada, and India to support the separatist cause.
In addition, the GTF has courted officials within international organisations such as the United Nations, the European Union and various international non-governmental organisations to obtain their support. By creating a high profile organization such as GTF, the British government and opposition leaders consulted both with the LTTE fronts and Tamil community organizations to discuss their concerns relating to British participation in the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting (CHGOM).For a meeting at Number 10 Downing Street on 7 November 2013, the British Prime Minister invited representatives of the Global Tamil Forum, British Tamils Forum, British Tamil Conservatives, Tamils for Labour, Tamil Information Centre, Tamils Against Genocide, and Ilankai Tamil Arasu Katchi (UK Branch).
In a press release, a BTF press release dated January 24, 2014 added: “Office bearers have neither displayed the leadership required to keep founding member organisations within GTF, nor have they undertaken the effort to expand GTF to include currently unrepresented Tamils across the world. Furthermore, GTF’s Annual General Meeting has been overdue since 2010. Therefore, it is of little surprise that GTF’s support base has dwindled and many country organisations have left.”
With pressure to investigate GTF and its constituents, whether GTF will disintegrate further is yet to be seen.