Lanka raps France over LTTE stamps

Jan 4, 2011

External Affairs Minister G.L. Peiris yesterday summoned the French Ambassador Christine Robichon and expressed deep concern over France’s postal service “La Poste” issuing four stamps depicting images related to the LTTE including its symbol though the LTTE was proscribed in France.

The minister said though the publishing of these stamps was not facilitated by the French Government, it was responsible in ensuring that such publications should not be permitted and the stamps must be withdrawn from circulation immediately.

The minister had emphasized that this action by a LTTE front organization would portray the French attitude towards global terrorism in an erroneous manner as France had unambiguously postulated its opposition.

He expressed confidence that the French Government would not give credence to such moves by a pro terrorist group and underscored that the history and modus operandi of the terrorist group and its leadership are well known and had been working for the dismemberment of a friendly country.

The minister said it was a regrettable phenomenon of diaspora groups engaging with host governments at different levels, especially in the West, culminating in misplaced attitudes being demonstrated by those countries towards Sri Lanka. He said the Sri Lankan people must be convinced that Western governments were seeking to achieve their wellbeing.

The minister said the bona-fides of a country came to be questioned and suspected by Sri Lankans when situations of this nature arose.

He said the Sri Lankan Government had to consider public opinion in Sri Lanka, especially because the terrorist group rump was seeking to achieve its objectives through various means.

The minister protested in the strongest possible terms and urged the French Government to withdraw the stamps from circulation.

Ambassador Robichon informed the minister that the French Embassy had confirmed that the stamps were neither a part of the official philatelic programme of France nor on sale in the French Post Office.

The French Ambassador confirmed that 360 stamps had been published and added that “Groupe La Poste” was an independent, public, industrial and commercial institution.

But the minister said the French Government was obliged to ensure that moves of this nature did not take place.

Referring to a news item appearing on the LTTE Website calling for these stamps to be used by its people when mailing letters and parcels, as it was necessary to preserve their pride and historical excellence; the minister said this was a devious way of fund raising by this proscribed organization. He underlined the importance of ending fund raising activities abroad by the remnants of the terrorist group so that there would be no return to acts of terrorism in the future.

The minister noted the assurance by “La Poste” on the non-publication of these stamps in the future following the recognition that the LTTE was listed as a terrorist organization, the Minister strongly reiterated the need to prevent the use of the stamps originally printed and that the French Government should investigate those who ordered the printing of the stamps, especially considering the monetary dimension since there had been a public call for the use of these stamps.

Source: Daily Mirror - Sri Lanka