he European Court of Justice (ECJ) while striking down anti-terrorism sanctions imposed on the LTTE by the European Union has attributed its ruling last week to the decision by the EU leaders in 2006 to place the LTTE on a list of terrorist organisations being based on “imputations derived from the press and the internet” rather than on direct investigation of the group’s actions, as required by the law.
Needless to say that this is a preposterous situation, since a bloc of dozens of so-called developed countries that always tend to educate other countries on the rule of law has taken a serious decision some eight years ago without verifying the situation on their own and without following due legal procedures.
Many countries including Sri Lanka that have been affected by EU’s various decisions in the past may question the validity, legality and the rationale of those decisions, as this ruling that has humiliated the EU countries has been issued by none other than its own court of law. However, the ECJ has stressed that those annulments of EU sanctions against the Tamil Tigers of Sri Lanka that have been effected on procedural grounds, do not imply any substantive assessment of the question of the classification of the LTTE as a terrorist group. That means the EU judges have not ruled out the fact that the LTTE is a terrorist organisation, but they were only of the view that the ban on the outfit had been imposed without following proper legal procedures. That part of the ruling has opened a window of opportunity for the Sri Lankan Government to impress upon the EU the grounds that would be sound enough to designate the LTTE as a terrorist outfit, in the future.
It is ridiculous on the part of the EU to impose sanctions on the LTTE based on “imputations derived from the press and the internet” as the court has pointed out while the EU diplomats in Sri Lanka then could have provided to their governments thousands of cases that would have proved the terrorist nature of the Tigers. They did not need to go to the battlefront in the North and the East then for this purpose as the group had provided enough evidence to prove their culpability by way of bomb attacks on civilian targets such as buses, trains, banks, tourist hotels in Colombo and its suburbs and the assassination of two heads of state in Sri Lanka and India. The EU diplomats could have also visited hundreds of villages where men, women and children were butchered and the temples and mosques where hundreds of unarmed civilians were killed.
The Sri Lankan Government too cannot absolve its responsibility to the annulment of sanctions on the LTTE or to the rectification of the situation now. Ludicrous statements such as that of Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe’s recent visit to Europe and the reported meeting with Tamils there had resulted in the ECJ’s ruling would not help resolve the problem. Those statements are more ridiculous in the face of reports that government officials themselves had had official business dealings with those in Europe who had been legally proved to have links with the LTTE. Government leaders who apparently see a Tiger in every Tamil in Europe cannot claim innocence in these transactions.
It is clear as to what the lifting of the ban on the LTTE in Europe means to the outfit. It would be mainly a licence for fund raising with a view to procuring arms, as happened earlier. Hence instead of making a mockery of the situation or looking for scapegoats, it would be prudent on the part of the authorities to prevail upon the EU leaders the need to curb the vanquished rebels’ future fund-raising capability which would rejuvenate the bloody secessionist campaign in Sri Lanka in future.