On the verge of the recent Commonwealth Heads meeting at Edinburgh there was speculation and high drama in London about eight hundred Tamil protestors attempting to charter a train to Edinburgh to agitate in the presence of the all the delegates with a view to embarrass the Sri Lankan President. Few groups of Sinhalese reacted swiftly and were on their way to Edinburgh in coach loads, hired vans and private cars. The Sinhala Balamandalaya was one of the prominent groups which took the news seriouly and organised a coach load of their members to counter the Tamil protests.
Before their departure from London they submitted a lengthy letter to Her Majesty, the Queen Elizabeth II, with copies to all the Commonwealth Heads requesting Britain to move away from their Nelsonian view. Highlighting a London Times news story which analysed ' The war of words between Delhi and London and how it threatened to over shadow the Commonwealth Conference in Edinburgh" Sinhala Balamandalaya posed the question whether the Tamil activists in the UK, who support terrorism in Sri Lanka, add another strand to the disharmony highlighted in 'The Times' by their proposed plan to take 800 sympathisers of terrorism to Edinburgh. The following is the full text of the Balamandandalaya letter to the Queen:
22 October 1997
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
Head of the Commonwealth
A SHADOW OVER THE COMMONWEALTH CONFERENCE IN EDINBURGH
On 17 October 1997 'The Times', newspaper carried a news story under the caption " The war of words between Delhi and London is threatening to over shadow the Commonwealth Conference due to be held in Edinburgh". Could the Tamil activists in the UK, who support terrorism in Sri Lanka, add another strand to the disharmony highlighted in 'The Times'? According to reliable sources of information reaching us, this London based group is planning to hold protests in Edinburgh with their Scottish and British allies, to agitate and also will attempt to raise the separatist ' Eelam' flag during the Commonwealth Heads meeting between 24-27 October 1997.
Recently the Indian Civil Aviation and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Jayanthi Natarajan vented his unease and unhappiness created in India, during your Majesty's Royal Tour to India. We feel that this embarrassment may be intensified by the planned activities of the above mentioned group in Edinburgh in the presence of eight hundred delegates of the Commonwealth, if necessary precautions are not adopted.
The Conservative Shadow foreign secretary, Mr. Michael Howard, berated the Foreign Office of the present Labour Government and praised the work done by the Conservatives during their term of office. However, the stubborn facts are that, during the past nineteen years of the Tory government the Conservatives disastrously failed to evaluate events in South Asia; Britain permitted a ruthless terrorist organisation active in Sri Lanka to set up its Headquarters in London and to build up their strength.
With the emergence of this London Headquarters as their main base in the West, the terrorists have expanded across Europe and in North America. This has helped them to organise shipments, convoys and flights of refugees to the West to extort, coerce and to engage in drug trafficking and arms trade to build up vast reserves for their terrorist activity funds, the consequence of which is that this terrorist organisation has established a formidable Front today by strategically & convincingly lobbing and misleading many a Western politician and government.
The terrorist activity by a certain section of the Tamil community in Sri Lanka today is to divide this beautiful land, where all communities have been living in constant harmony for centuries, into a separate region called Tamil Eelam. This will not only have an impact on Sri Lanka but more significantly a greater impact on India and ultimately may affect Anglo-Sri Lanka as well as Anglo-Indian relations adversely in the coming 21st century. India is a vast but a single country comprising a union of states, whereas Sri Lanka is regarded as the ' pearl ' of the Indian ocean; and even to harbour a thought of dividing this tiny Island into two is senseless.
The British foreign office, over the past nineteen years, has continuously failed to understand how and why the Tamil terrorists are demanding an Eelam in Sri Lanka and most of all how they plan and organise from Briton to operate their terrorist activities in Sri Lanka. ' Eelam' is a Tamil word which signifies the aspirations of the Tamil population for their own independent state. ' Eelam' is not restricted to Sri Lanka only, because the homeland of the Tamil nation is Tamilnadu in India, with an extensive territory and a population of over sixty million people.
Today India too, like Sri Lanka, is concerned with the preservation of its territorial integrity. India is very sensitive to external interference in Kashmir. This was evident during your recent royal tour and the disregard of protocol in Tamilnadu. Your Majesty naturally had to act on the foreign office advice, but sadly though, the Foreign Office officials seem to still dwell in the by-gone days of Colonial thinking! During the much publicised 'misunderstanding' during the royal visit to India, the British High Commissioner in New Delhi publicly rejected the Indian by blatantly calling it " a fuss about little toasts here and there". This kind of brusque statements will not impress the people of today, because if this matter is not taken seriously it will not be 'little toasts here and there' but 'bombs and grenades' everywhere in time to come!
Only a few days ago the US Congress responded in greater sensitivity to South Asian concerns than Britain. The LTTE call themselves a ' Liberation Organisation' but the US State Department designated it as "terrorist organisation' along with a number of Palestinian groups, a few Israeli organisations and others, thus making it illegal to provide funds for them, and debarring their members or representatives from obtaining US visas. The US Secretary of State acted under the authority provided by the Anti-terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996,with the concurrence of the Attorney General and the Secretary of the Treasury. As you are fully aware, a formal announcement of the designation was placed in the Federal Register on October 8, and the Department of the Treasury has notified financial institutions to block funds of the designated organisation.
It is necessary to bear in mind that it was a young terrorist woman of Tamil origin trained and programmed by the LTTE-Eelam cult leaders in Sri Lanka, who approached the late Rajiv Gandhi, appearing to greet him, and activated a suicide bomb which blasted the Indian leader into smithereens while killing many others and herself. With such suicide squads at their disposal (the only group other than the Palestine suicide bombers), can any rationally minded person think that the LTTE terrorist group is not going to be a threat to world peace?
Thousands of valuable human lives have been cruelly destroyed in Sri Lanka over a period of thirteen years (both Sinhalese and their own kind - Tamils) by the LTTE. Their latest act of barbarism was seen, the world over, on television on 15 October 1997 when they blew up a five star tourist hotel in Colombo killing innocent civilians and injuring a few British tourists who were staying at the hotel.
Time has now come for the world leaders & politicians to act with common sense to eradicate terrorism. In this particular instance Britain has a responsible role to play in putting an end to the LTTE operations from the very heart of London where substantial monies are being laundered from London to further their terrorist ends.
We, therefore, sincerely hope that the Prime Minister, Mr. Tony Blair & Mr. Robin Cook, the Foreign Secretary, will take timely and appropriate steps concerning activities of the Tamil Eelam supporters at the Commonwealth Summit and thereafter.
The United States of America took the lead very wisely in proscribing the LTTE terrorist organisation, now it is Britain's turn to move away from the Nelsonian vision and follow suit in the name of thousands of innocent human lives that are at stake as a result of a group of schizophrenic terrorists' insane activities.
President - Sinhala Bala Mandalaya in the UK
cc: Heads of Commonwealth Countries