US says LTTE engages in terrorism

[TamilNet, Thursday, 09 October 1997, 23:59 GMT]
The US Secretary of State, under the authority provided by the Anti-terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, with the concurrence of the US Attorney General and Secretary of the Treasury, has designated 30 armed groups as foreign terrorist organizations, including the LTTE.

The law makes it a criminal offense to provide funds, weapons or other forms of material support to the organizations on the list. Members and representatives of these organizations are ineligible for visas to enter the United States, and are subject to exclusion from the United States.

The status of the organizations as part of the Terrorism List expires in two years unless specifically extended for a longer term.

Constitutional lawyers say that this law will not withstand constitutional challenge pointing out the recent decision by the 9th Circuit Court in California on a case filed by members of a Palestinian group.

TamilNet has been informed by sources close to the LTTE that the organization will mount a legal challenge to the listing.

Furthermore, these sources say that the State Department has been playing down the impact of the law on existing pro-LTTE lobbying activity by U.S citizens, and has indicated that the law does not prevent the State Department from continuing a political dialogue with the LTTE.

The sources also point out that while several 'Tamil' organizations based in Canada have been labeled as LTTE 'front organizations', none based in the U.S has been identified as such.



Well-informed sources in the US government say that the main intention for the publication of this list is to bolster the US's image as a strong anti-terrorism proponent.

Other observers also point out that many well-known Western armed organizations are conspicuous by their absence from the list, questioning the motives of the State Department.

Speaking to TamilNet today from their London office, the LTTE spokesman, Mr. Anton Raja said that it was "regrettable that the U.S. has taken this step", adding that it would only prolong the war in the island.

"The decision is a setback for peace because it fails to recognize the democratic rights of the Tamil people and their efforts to exercise their right to self-determination" he said.

He went on to say "It is the Sri Lankan government which is engaged in terrorism in the Tamil homelands. Its armed forces are indiscriminately bombing and shelling Tamil villages and starving hundreds of thousands of Tamils, in order to force them to accept Sinhala domination."

"The Sri Lankan armed forces are responsible for thousands of extra-judicial killings and are using rape as a weapon of war, in order to cow the Tamil people. Why has Washington chosen to remain silent on this?"

Mr. Raja also said that the listing "would not make any difference to the Tamil people's will to fight for their democratic rights".

 

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