Canada bans LTTE front organisation
Canada has banned the World Tamil Movement (WTM) and frozen its assets for raising funds for the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
Announcing the ban Monday, Stockwell Day, Canadian Minister of Public Safety, said: "The government is once again taking decisive action to protect Canadians from terrorism and to safeguard our nation's security. Listing the WTM, which is the leading front organisation for the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, in Canada, is an important step in ensuring our safety and security in the global fight against terrorism."
The minister said the WTM was banned under the Canadian criminal code which requires reasonable grounds to believe that the group `has knowingly participated in or facilitated a terrorist activity or is knowingly acting on behalf of, at the direction, or in association with such an entity'.
Canada is home to the largest population of Sri Lankan Tamils outside their country. Set up in 1986, the WTM is their main community organisation. But it has been accused of coercion and strong-arm tactics to collect funds from Tamil Canadians.
Under the anti-terror act passed after 9/11, Canada banned 40-odd organisations, including the LTTE, for terrorist violence. The new law allowed front organisations of these banned entities to exist.
This is the first time that any front organisation has been banned in Canada.
Apart from coercing the local Tamils to pay it, the WTM also made Canadian Tamils visiting LTTE-held territory in Sri Lanka sign pre-payment forms.
The WTM came under the scanner in 2003. After a long probe, the police raided its Toronto and Montreal offices in 2006 and seized truckloads of incriminating documents. Under the law, anyone giving funds to a banned organisation can be jailed for 10 years and anyone who raises funds for it faces up to 14 years behind bars.
The government statement said: "The listing of the WTM is meant to support the Tamil Community of Canada, which consists of law-abiding and hard working people who have left their country of origin to build a better life for themselves and their families in Canada.
"The government is taking this step to help ensure that Canadians, including the Tamil community, are protected from the activities of this organisation."
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