Articles

Turning a Blind Eye to Terrorism

By April 21, 2000 No Comments

Canada’s opinion-makers have lauded their high moral stance on human rights for many years. There is no shortage of platforms where Canadian politicians have proclaimed their support for basic human rights; anti-terrorism; banning land mines; or protecting children from being conscripted into Third World conflicts. However, consideration must also be given to the inaction of this opinion elite.

Canada is one of the most fertile grounds for insurgents, terrorist groups and criminal cartels to operate – mostly by raising funds and laundering money. These are the very groups that commit atrocities on vulnerable populations around the world. Topping the list of terrorist groups that operate in Canada are the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE or Tamil Tigers). Now into the third decade of fighting for an ethnically pure “homeland”, there appears to be little hope for those who are suffering as a result of this gruesome terrorist/insurgent campaign. Even in Canada, where innocent civilians are fleeing the violence in Sri Lanka, they are not finding respite from the Tamil Tigers.

Australian immigration authorities have documented a case whereby a Canadian Tamil attracted the attention of the LTTE in Canada after speaking out against the terrorist organization during Sri Lanka’s 1994 election. As a result of his public views, he and his family fled from Canada to Australia. Australian authorities accepted his evidence “that the LTTE in Canada forced the closure of some newspapers, had been involved in gang warfare, and was associated with criminal activities such as drug trafficking, extortion and illegal migration.” [1] The claim was turned down, however, because the applicant did not report the threat to Canadian police and so his assertion that he could not receive protection from Canadian authorities was not accepted.

A similar claim was made by a Tamil with landed immigrant status living in New Zealand. While there, he was threatened by LTTE members in that country. Fearing for his life, he came to Canada. Again, LTTE members in Canada found him and continued their threatening behaviour. This individual next moved to Australia and claimed asylum. [2] In the eyes of these two individuals and their families, Canada had failed them.

While LTTE criminality in Canada is posing a serious threat here, it pales in comparison to the threat it poses in Sri Lanka to Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims. LTTE supporters, now well entrenched in Canadian politics, see to it that millions of dollars raised here, legally or otherwise, go to fund a brutal insurgency that has become infamous for using child soldiers (often in suicide attacks) and for “human wave” assaults.

Political assassinations have also been a staple of LTTE operations; hundreds of politicians, human rights activists and key government personnel have fallen victim to the Tigers’ vicious campaign. In one instance, a LTTE hit squad murdered a politician from a major Tamil party and his wife at the entrance to the Canadian High Commission in Colombo, Sri Lanka. [3] On July 29, 1999 an LTTE suicide bomber killed constitutional lawyer and human rights activist Neelan Tiruchelvam – internationally known as a moderate Tamil.

There is no shortage of LTTE acts of mass violence, directed at civilians, that have a Canadian connection. Some examples:

  • April 8, 1994: A Canadian LTTE operative died when a bomb detonated prematurely. Four other bombs exploded at hotels and other civilian targets overnight. [4]
  • October 26th 1996. A Tamil Tiger assassin gunned down the LTTE’s treasurer for France and a companion in Paris. (The deceased was apparently lining his own pockets too.) The gunman is believed to have escaped to Canada and is being hidden by the LTTE here. [5]

In 1994-5, the LTTE talked peace during a cease-fire while acquiring a massive shipment of explosives from the Ukraine through forged end-user certificates. The shipment included 50 tonnes of TNT and 10 tonnes of the plastic explosive RDX. [6] A significant portion of the funds used to make the purchases came from LTTE fronts in Canada, who often resort to extorting Tamils here. A Maclean’s report indicated that $6.8 million was channeled from Canada, into Europe and then the Ukraine to secure these explosives. [7] What followed was a horrific series of Oklahoma City-style attacks on civilians and infrastructure. Below is a partial list of the killings that the money the LTTE raised in Canada helped to fund:

  • November 3, 1995. A suicide unit of the LTTE shot their way into an oil storage depot in Colombo. The terrorists then used the explosives strapped to their bodies to destroy 14 storage tanks – causing $61 million in damage. They killed 23 soldiers and two civilians. [8]
  • November 24, 1995 a suicide cadre of the LTTE tried to penetrate the headquarters of the Sri Lankan Army. When stopped by guards, the first bomber detonated his explosive vest. Shortly afterwards, a second bomber detonated her vest in a crowd of civilian on-lookers. Casualties included 16 dead and 52 people injured. [9]
  • January 31, 1996. A truck bomb detonated in the Central Bank building in Colombo. Some 1,400 people were injured and 81 were killed. [10]
  • July 26, 1996, two bombs exploded on a commuter train near Colombo, killing at least 78 people. [11]
  • October 15, 1997, Another LTTE suicide bomber took a 400 kg truck bomb into the newly opened World Trade Centre in Colombo. This attack killed 18 people and wounded 100.
  • January 25 1998, a LTTE Suicide squad detonated a truck bomb at the holiest site for Sinhalese Buddhists, the Temple of the Tooth. It killed 14 people. [12] The outrageous attack was probably intended to provoke Sinhalese into communal rioting and counter-atrocities – which, in classic insurgent strategy, would be of enormous benefit to the Tamil Tigers.
  • March 5 1998, a bus bombing campaign in Colombo killed 32 people and wounded 250. [13]
  • December 18, 1999, simultaneous LTTE suicide bomber attacks were made on Sri Lankan President Kumaratunga and the Leader of the Opposition days before a federal election. President Kumaratunga lost an eye in the attack.
  • February 7, 2000. Seven bombs exploded on trains and buses in Sri Lanka in a one week period. Another bomb was detected and disarmed. [14]

Canada is not living up to her responsibilities to protect civilians from harm by allowing the LTTE to operate within our country. We cannot claim to honour human rights if we permit this to continue.

Unfortunately, a powerful long-term presence in Canada is all but guaranteed. The Tigers have sustained an iron grip on the Tamil community. Moreover, with non-Tamil groups, they masquerade as a ‘protector” of the Tamil people around the world – duping numerous naive (but well-intentioned) human rights groups, activists, NGOs and government agencies. Tiger activists in Canada are quick to protect their organization’s position by fending off any criticism as “racist” and “anti-Tamil”. In reality, the Tigers bear responsibility for the deaths of tens of thousands of Tamils.

The most recent trend in LTTE operations in Canada consists of harassing and threatening mainstream media sources and reporters who document Tiger crimes and abuses here. This goes well beyond playing the “race card” as they have in the past. Until recently, the LTTE has reserved both the threat and use of violence for Canadian Tamils who do not support the cause. Harassment and threats against the wider Canadian community should be taken seriously. As Ovind Fuglerud writes of LTTE leaders in Life on the Outside: “When they speak, they do so with the undoubted authority of an organization which shares the responsibility for over 60,000 lives having ended violently in the last 15 years.” This fact has not been lost on Canadian police officers; those who provide expert evidence about the LTTE and related groups wear body armour when testifying in the courtroom.

In the Spring of 2000, the LTTE made significant gains on the battlefield in Sri Lanka. On May 6, 2000 the Canadian Finance Minister Paul Martin and Maria Minna, the Minister of International Cooperation, attended a fund-raiser for an LTTE front group. This was interpreted by the Tigers as an approval for the group by this country’s leadership. Other recent manifestations of the LTTE in Canada included the presence of their activists in fund-raisers held in Toronto-area schools wearing combat fatigues and displaying replica assault weapons. [15] Politicians from all levels of government have attended LTTE events.

Given the evidence cited above, and the appearance of federal cabinet ministers consorting with a Terrorist front group, one could conclude that the next Canadian Tamil who applies for refugee status in Australia has a reasonable chance of winning it. For a nation that prides itself on our quality of life, we deserve to be deeply embarrassed by this. Canada also stands to be cut-off from the sharing of intelligence with allied nations because of this faux pas.

Until the situation with the LTTE is firmly redressed, Canada ought to stand in silence when it comes to anything to do with the protection of human rights or public safety. Our good standing in the community of nations has been seriously jeopardized, and the safety of our citizens is compromised.