LTTE: Sri Lanka’s accusations of credit card fraud is ‘attempt to distract from rights abuses’

[TamilNet, Sunday, 22 April 2007, 09:08 GMT]
Liberation Tigers Political Head, S. P. Thamilchelvan, responding to allegations by the Sri Lankan Embassy in London that the Liberation Tigers were involved in organised crime in Britain involving the cloning of credit cards, dismissed the accusations and slammed them as an attempt by the Colombo government to distract international attention from widespread human rights abuses by its armed forces. Mr. Thamilchelvan said Sri Lanka's accusations which sought to implicate the hardworking and law-abiding Tamil Diaspora, stemmed from the "same chauvinism that caused the island’s protracted ethnic war."

On Saturday, Maxwell Keegel, the first secretary of the Sri Lankan Embassy in London, in a report filed by the BBC, claimed that the Tamil Tigers were behind a scam involving employees of petrol stations in UK whereby credit cards were cloned, pin numbers were recorded and later money withdrawn from the customers cards in Asian countries.

Mr. Thamilchelvan, when contacted by TamilNet Sunday about the accusations, said that the government of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, "faced with international distaste is attempting to divert the attention of the world from its human rights abuses by making false accusations of LTTE responsibility of criminality in other countries."

“We are urging responsible media organisations like BBC to be sensitive to the credibility of the claims that originate from the propaganda officials at the Sri Lankan embassies before sensationalising such defamatary claims and contributing to the government’s smear campaigns,” Mr. Thamilchelvan added.

“The diplomatic community is well aware of the values we promote with regards to a crime free environment and social order in the Tamil homeland."

“Similarly, we also urge Tamil activists among the diaspora community to cooperate fully with the law enforcement authorities in their host countries.”

“It is typical of the Sinhala chauvinists in Sri Lankan governments to portray the Tamil community as a whole as criminal and undesirable,” Mr. Thamilchelvan said.

“The very reason so many of our people fled their beloved homeland and sought sanctuary in foreign countries in the past four decades is this endemic racism,” he added.

The BBC on Saturday quoted independent security sources as telling its correspondent, Keith Doyle, that the claims on credit card cloning were possible, but also quoted a Humberside police spokesman as saying that their evidence does not suggest there is a definite link.

In an earlier BBC program, British police officers said many of those suspected of being involved were from the “Sri Lankan community” but did not link the criminal activity to the Tamils specifically or the LTTE.

They said other minority groups besides Sri Lankans were also involved in credit card fraud, and the problem was seen in many other retail sectors.

Credit card cloning or skimming has become more widespread since the ‘chip-and-pin’ technology was introduced.

According to British police, organised criminals are using scanners behind the counter to record card numbers and installing secret cameras to record the pin numbers.

Tamil activists in UK said the security services in the UK are being given all possible assistance by the Tamil community to apprehend those involved in criminal activity.

“It is true there are Tamils amongst the criminals involved in credit card fraud, along with some Sinhalese and individuals from other minorities here, as well as the majority population,” a long-serving community activist told TamilNet.

“But Mr. Maxwell’s allegations are intended to criminalise our community as a whole and to undermine Tamil-run businesses in this country.”

“Indeed, if he has any proof to back up his accusation, we challenge him to hand it over to the British police.”

“The Tamil community and the British Police have a good working relationship in the UK, one which has been in place for many years.”


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