| by Shenali Waduge
( February 11, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) Europe knows, Canada knows, the US & UK Government knows, India knows and so does Australia….but the biggest question is apart from making a few arrests what have these Governments realistically done about the LTTE Tamil Diaspora’s involvement in international human smuggling or any of the LTTE’s other illicit & illegal activities which all these nations & their authorities are aware about?
So with LTTE fighting force now eliminated why does the LTTE need so much of funds. More than ever before it is now that the LTTE needs money. They need to pay rent for their offices, they need to travel more to lobby people and to bribe them, they need to hire lawyers, lobbyists, politicians, diplomats, they need to influence media personnel & media houses, they need to lobby the human rights organizations & pay them to keep mum and they need to maintain the same lifestyle they led all these years. For all this Money is needed. The best solution is to turn towards human smuggling, human trafficking, illegal immigration, human slavery – call it what you like it all implies the same. It is a business more lucrative than the drug trade.
It is believed that the LTTE has been smuggling thousands across the world. In groups these people pay to be assembled in Thailand and then to be put aboard vessels that head for Canada, Europe or Australia. How these people get the money is another good question.
LTTE is quick to pick up where authorities have weak policies & they know how policies & systems can be manipulated. The Tamil Diaspora is exploiting & manipulating all social service systems in all the countries it has presence in. In other words they are eating up the tax payers money & these Governments are just watching. Irony is that millions of dollars get spent to investigate into the human smuggling networks as well as processing the immigrations of those proclaiming to be asylum seekers. Canada has been burdened with such.
The facts about human trafficking is simple. 80% of human trafficking is for sex while others are trafficked for their organs or labor. 30,000 victims of sex trafficking die each year as a result of sexual abuse, disease, torture. It is estimated that there are 27m adult & 13m children who are victims of global human trafficking. A 2003 study in the Netherlands found that a single sex slave could earn her pimp at least $250,000 a year! Human traffickers are trafficking pregnant women for their newborns where these babies are sold in the black market & profits are divided between traffickers, doctors, lawyers, border officials & others. Liberated Kosovo is filled with sex slaves. NATO soldiers, UN police, Western aid workers are all exploiting these sex traffickers. UNICEF estimates that over 3 decades 30m children have been sexually exploited through human trafficking. Reports aside what has the world done to stop this? Countries that provide humans to be trafficked are Belarus, Moldova, Russian Federation, Ukraine, Albania, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Romania, China, Thailand & Nigeria. Favored destinations for sex traffickers are Belgium, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Thailand, Turkey & the US. In the US these sex workers will be in strip clubs, peep & touch shows, massage parlours, sweatshops etc. What type of families would sell their children into slavery, knowing they would be sexually abused & then sold for sexual favors? What type of humans would pay to have forced sex with handicapped children even young girls suffering from Downs Syndrom? Human trafficking today surpasses the drug trade & generates profits between $9billion to $31.6billion. FBI estimates that over 100,000 children & young women are trafficked in America. Brazil & Thailand are considered to have the worst child sex trafficking records. Nearly 7000 Nepali girls are sold annually to brothels in India. It is estimated that over 200,000 of Nepali girls are sexually exploited in India. Even in Sri Lanka brothels cater to customers by offering children as young as six years old.
That the LTTE Tamil Diaspora are involved in human smuggling is nothing that the Governments of Canada, US, UK, Europe & Australia do not know about. These Governments are all aware of the connections. Our biggest issue is why are these Governments not attacking the root of the entire nexus?
All these Governments know the leaders of the LTTE & Tamil Diaspora – they know where the live, what they do, how they earn and if these Governments & authorities also know that they are involved in human smuggling alongside other illegal & illicit activities why are these people not being rounded up like Raj Rajaratnam. Do thousands of humans need to be smuggled & turned into slaves or made into sex workers & prostitutes for the West to take action against the LTTE Tamil Diaspora?
In a wikileaks expose of a US embassy cable sent by then US Ambassador Jeffrey Lunstead in 2002 reveals that the US was very much aware of the following. That the LTTE was “engaging in numerous fundraising activities worldwide”, that $200m had been raised from their “organized crime” to finance “illicit weapons procurement”, Lunstead even goes on to state that the LTTE & related organizations may be “raising significant amounts of money in the US”. So the question is what happened to “turning up the heat on the LTTE?” Lunstead also states that the TRO – Tamil Rehabilitation Organization raises as much as $40m annually. The 2002 cable also suggests that the US Government should “examine the activities of the Tamil National Alliance” since the TNA was planning to open an office in the US. The US cable is also aware that 10m UK pounds is raised by the LTTE through extortion, credit card frauds, borrowing money from UK banks & absconding, human smuggling & illegal immigration. The cable also reveals that in Canada the LTTE raises between $10 to 20m through organized crime. The US is also aware that the LTTE levies “taxes” in areas that the LTTE controlled & these taxes bring the LTTE $2m annually. Taxes imposed on business account for $15m to 18m annually. The US is also aware of the LTTE banks (Bank of Tamil Eelaam with 10 branches).
So when Lunstead has practically all information available with him, when he has informed his bosses about the LTTE, the Tamil Diaspora, the LTTE front organizations – we would like to know why the US government allows fund raising to continue, allows TNA to visit the US, had dialogue with the TNA when the US specifically states it does not “talk with terrorists”….something is just not right.
So if the US knows, Canada knows, UK knows and the EUROPOL report confirms that the LTTE is actively involved in activities that range from extortion, money laundering, running illegal lotteries, credit card frauds through LTTE owned petrol sheds, retail outlets can we please know why the Tamil Diaspora is not held accountable, why the Tamil Diaspora is able to exert influence, why the Tamil Diaspora leaders are treated like VVIPs, why the TNA has credibility among Governments/NGOs & even the UN, why the TNA is forced to hold discussions with Sri Lanka’s democratically elected Government?
There have been some attempts to curb the LTTE Tamil Diaspora’s illicit activities. In 2010, 27 Tamils were arrested for terrorist offences linked to financing LTTE in France, Germany & Netherlands…over 100 officers from Finland, France & Belgium were involved in a joint operation to investigate criminal networks in Europe. The investigations discovered the business human smuggling using counterfeit passports produced in Thailand.but can these nations be happy that with these arrests that LTTE financing has stopped?
The Canadian authorities have identified 32 smuggling syndicates with ties to the LTTE. The price of a passage to the West varies from $20,000 to $30,000. The agents collect 10% of this fee with the rest to be paid in Canada. Most of these people do not even know where they are destined to be living in. Without a doubt, human smuggling is one of the most lucrative businesses. LTTE’s human smuggling operations is headed by a sea tiger – S. Kanthaskaran who holds a UK passport. LTTE uses ships to smuggle humans. Some of these ships used were MV Princess Easwary disguised as MV Ocean Lady, MV Sun Sea, MV Alicia, In 2009, MV Princess Easwary posing as MV Ocean Lady was to dock in Victoria, Canada. Princess Easwary turned out to be a ship belonging to the LTTE. Similarly, the MV Sun Sea had collected 225 charging them $22,000 to $45,000. The amounts being quoted as fees to be smuggled is really atronomical considering the earning capacity in Sri Lanka. If people had this much of money they could have easily gone as tourists or better still they would have been able to lead good lives in Sri Lanka itself. More over the oft used excuse is that these people are fleeing Sri Lanka Government forces. Why did they not flee to India or to closer countries. Why do they only wish to go to Western countries?
France has not banned the LTTE but its authorities have arrested 18 Tamils involved in illegal immigration. But are these arrests sufficient to actually solve the reality that the LTTE Tamil Diaspora is making millions out of transporting humans, selling them & extorting money from their families?
When Governments send emissaries to question Sri Lanka, we need to in turn demand answers from these Governments starting with what they are doing about LTTE Tamil Diaspora living on their soil and attempting to create disharmony in Sri Lanka. Just as Sri Lanka are made to give explanations we need answers from the Governments of the US, UK, Canada, Europe & Australia – we demand to know what your Governments are doing about LTTE Tamil Diaspora’s illicit & illegal activities and we are not satisfied with simple arrests.