International

Separatist groups to remain proscribed, says Colombo

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The Sri Lankan government on Sunday clarified that [Tamil] groups, which continued to espouse separatism remained proscribed. This included eight organisations and 157 individuals.

Apart from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), the other banned groups were the Tamil Rehabilitation Organisation, Tamil Coordinating Committee, World Tamil Movement, Transitional Government of Tamil Eelam, Tamil Eelam Peoples Assembly, World Tamil Relief Fund and the Headquarters Group.

In a release, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the government’s decision to lift ban on eight organisations and 267 individuals was taken after “a comprehensive and careful review” in the last six months. The review concluded that there was “no intelligence or evidence justifying” the ban.

Recalling the former Rajapaksa regime’s move in March 2014 to impose ban on 16 organisations and 424 individuals, the release pointed out that it was announced eight days before elections to Western and Southern provincial councils which were held on March 29. It was done in “haste and was not subject to a rigorous process of assessment and verification.” Many of the originally listed organisations had never condoned violence or terrorism. “Some of the proscribed individuals were even dead at the time of proscription - including one individual who died eight years prior to the proscription.”

The Ministry claimed that “law enforcement and intelligence services are now able to target their resources more efficiently and focus their energy on genuine threats.” Since the new government came to power “with a mandate for democracy, good governance, rule of law, accountability and reconciliation,” many [originally] listed groups made public statements expressing “their commitment to a united, undivided Sri Lanka” in global forums. “This indicates that the government’s counter-terrorism strategy of combating terrorism through better intelligence, specialised training, tighter legislation and closer counter-terrorism partnerships, combined with measures addressing the root causes of violence, is beginning to work,” the release said, adding that the government would annually review and update the list of proscribed persons.

Move lauded

Welcoming the government’s latest move of lifting ban on the Global Tamil Forum (GTF) and some others, Suren Surendiran, spokesperson and Director for Strategic Initiatives of the United Kingdom-headquartered GTF, described the previous regime’s action as “arbitrary, irrational and a blatant attempt to suppress freedom of speech and dissent.” The Forum had “actively campaigned” since then for the entire list of organisations and individuals to be de-listed. “Our campaign will continue until that goal is achieved," Mr Surendiran added.

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2020 4:00:29 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/separatist-groups-to-remain-proscribed-says-colombo/article7905613.ece

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