Sri Lanka puts Aussie group on 'terrorist' list

Admiral Thisara Samarasinghe, the new high commissioner for Sri Lanka to Australia (File: AAP)

An Australian Tamil community group is one of more than a dozen Tamil organisations to have been listed as a terror group by Sri Lanka's government.

(Transcript from World News Radio)

An Australian Tamil community group is one of more than a dozen Tamil organisations to have been listed as a terror group by Sri Lanka's government.

The Australian Tamil Congress has responded by accusing the Sri Lankan government of trying to deflect attention from itself after the United Nations called for an investigation of human rights in the country.

Murray Silby reports.

The Australian Tamil Congress is among 16 Tamil organisations, including the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam or Tamil Tigers, blacklisted by the Sri Lankan government.

United Nations Security Council Resolution 13-73 allows the assets of people, groups and entities, to be frozen if they're believed on reasonable grounds to be committing, attempting to commit, facilitating or participating, in the commission of acts of terrorism.


Sri Lanka's High Commissioner to Australia Thisara Samarasinghe says the groups were listed by the government as terror organisations after equipment and funds were confiscated and linked to foreign networks.


"They had a big logistic network and this money turned into hardware and they bought into big merchant vessels and finally by various means they reached the shores of Sri Lanka. So it is critically obvious that there is a financial network, purchase network, logistics network and a support banking network in foreign countries."


Admiral Samarasinghe confirmed the Australian Tamil Congress is on the list, but won't say precisely why.


"I'm not here to share my information with you, that is important. And certain action which we have shared with relevant authorities is there to justify that Sri Lankan government has enough credible evidence to suggest that."


The High Commissioner says it's up to the Australian government as to what action it might now take against members of the listed groups in Australia.


"I will give you an example: the Australian government prosecuted one of the LTTE members in Australia with people giving evidence from Sri Lanka. So there is a mechanism available from the two governments and as for the bilateral agreements as a responsible government Australia has done that in the past. And he has been convicted and Sri Lanka support it. So a similar situation in a case-by-case basis we have cooperated very well."


But Sam Pari, from the Australian Tamil Congress, angrily denies that it's a terror group.


"These allegations that have been brought on us by the Sri Lankan Government are false and they are very serious acts of discrediting the Australian Tamil Congress, which has maintained a very good name and a very good reputation among the mainstream Australian public. We have a very good reputation and good relationship with Australian politicians and the Australian media and Australian policy makers."


Dr Pari believes the Sri Lankan government's action is in response to a resolution adopted by the UN Human Rights Council.


That called for an international investigation into war crimes allegedly committed by both Sri Lankan troops and the Tamil Tigers during the final stages of their conflict in 2009.


"The Australian Tamil Congress believes that this is knee jerk reaction by the Sri Lankan Government in response to the successfully adopted United Nations Human Rights Council resolution on Sri Lanka, which was passed last Thursday the 27th of March."


Sam Pari says the Congress is respected internationally.


"The Australian Tamil Congress is a properly constituted public and democratic civil society organisation. We are well respected by Australian politicians, by eminent persons in Australia, not just in Australia, but internationally as well, and so the Australian Tamil Congress has a very good record and a very good opinion in the minds of important policy makers around the world and in Australia."


But Sri Lanka's High Commissioner to Australia, Thisara Samarasinghe, says there's no difference between the listed groups and the Tamil Tigers, or LTTE.


"What did the LTTE finally want to achieve? Separatism. Any organisation that acknowledges separatism or do not reject separatism in Sri Lanka is supporting terrorist ideology."







Source SBS

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