The Government of Sri Lanka on 1st April 2014 banned the LTTE and 16 LTTE fronts and named 424 individuals and organizations to be investigated for links to terror. These entities are all operating from overseas with leaders having ties with foreign politicians and parliamentarians as well as tied to various charities and NGOs. Ironically, the banned entities are operating in countries that have banned the LTTE and continues to maintain the ban. With the Government taking a principled stand on the need to completely negate the overpowering influence exerted by foreign passport holding LTTE diaspora, the External Affairs Minister and Ministry cannot take a lackluster approach by simply waiting for Colombo to give them standing orders. They must take a more proactive and assertive role and counter the anti-Sri Lanka propaganda as well as come down hard on the foreign nations allowing the banned entities to prevail. This is no time for cringing diplomacy.
The External Affairs Minister and Ministry must immediately be asked to address the following:
- With all stations having a defense attaché in place the gazette notifications of the ban with names and entities must be sent out to all entities that the diplomatic missions deal with.
- The Foreign Missions need to deploy teams that will inform all public meeting venues about the ban and request that facilities are not hired to these banned entities. A direct hotline must be given for these officials to contact in the event a member of the Tamil Diaspora does contact them to make a booking. Communication channels need to be made accessible 24×7.
- The Foreign Missions need to regularly set up meetings with local councils and their staff and follow through with official letters and personal meetings to keep them abreast of the new developments.
- Dossiers on these banned entities must be compiled and distributed to public officials and places where the LTTE diaspora have been conducting regular meetings over the years in particular the local police of the areas they are actively involved in. Photographs of these LTTE banned entities and their leaders must also be distributed.
- Public forums should be held with question and answer opportunities for the public of these countries to come forward and ask questions regarding the ban for the anti-propaganda has been such that many foreign natives have fallen prey to the lies. This is a perfect opportunity for Sri Lanka to now set the story straight.
- Every mission should open a website in the countries they are functioning and upload the activities that the banned LTTE fronts have been upto including statistics of how many foreign natives they have cheated manipulating the social welfare systems, credit card malpractices and other illegal activities.
- The present Commission on Missing and Disappeared and the statistics available as well as the statistics on the post-conflict development and processes in place need to be simultaneously promoted to show the achievements of Sri Lanka in just 5 years.
The External Affairs Ministry and staff have work cut out for them and there is no time to be lost. We cannot afford to take an armchair approach or cringe with fear of annoying the West. The opportunity to negate the anti-Sri Lanka propaganda is now before us, the external affairs ministry must take a leading role as the baton is now in their hands and they cannot afford to remain in slumber.
– by Shenali D Waduge