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European Union bans LTTE

Amit Baruah

This will result in the freezing of the outfit's assets in 25 countries

LTTE does not represent all Tamils: European ParliamentStrong message to the Tigers: New DelhiMove will hurt the outfit's fund-raising efforts

NEW DELHI: The European Union Foreign Ministers on Monday ordered the listing of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) as a banned organisation.

Western diplomats said on Tuesday that the decision was taken at a meeting of the General Affairs and External Relations Council in Brussels.

The decision confirmed a recommendation by European officials to proscribe the terrorist outfit on May 17, a development first reported by The Hindu on May 19.

The diplomats told this correspondent that the E.U. decision would result in the freezing of LTTE assets in 25 countries across Europe and put an end to its efforts to raise funds for funding its terror campaign in Sri Lanka.

Asked to comment on the E.U. decision, an Indian official said: "It's a strong, symbolic message to the Tigers." The Tigers would have to shut down their huge office in Paris, used by Lawrence Thilagar for propaganda activities. Fund-raising capacities of the LTTE would also be affected, the official said.

European nations have become increasingly intolerant of the LTTE after its latest round of killings. On May 17, the European Parliament sharply criticised the militant group for attacking a vessel carrying 710 unarmed security force personnel, besides members of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM).

Also, the vessel was flying the SLMM flag, and was escorted by Navy gun boats. In the attack, one gun boat was sunk, and 18 crew members were killed.

Saying that the LTTE did not represent all the Tamils, the European Parliament called on it to "allow for political pluralism and alternate democratic voices in the northern and eastern parts of Sri Lanka, which would secure the interests of all peoples and communities."

The wheel has turned full circle for the LTTE, an organisation that has shown unusual strengths in extorting money from Tamil expatriates in the name of waging an armed struggle to create an independent state of "Tamil Eelam."

After obtaining a degree of international legitimacy following the involvement of Norway as facilitator and other key entities such as the E.U., the United States and Japan, the LTTE has returned to its old ways. Its threats to return to war in case the E.U. slapped a ban on it have failed to prevent Brussels from taking the extreme step.

The assassination of Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar and the attempt on the life of Army Chief Sarath Fonseka convinced the European nations that the Tigers had not changed their stripes.

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