Says banning rebel funding right move

OTTAWA—Canada has done the right thing by banning the Tamil Tigers and must follow up by making sure there is no more fundraising, a former Sri Lankan peace negotiator said yesterday.

"The financing must stop," said Jayantha Dhanapala, the former secretary-general of the Sri Lankan peace process that negotiated with the LTTE.

On Monday morning, a suicide bomber in Colombo killed the deputy-chief of the Sri Lankan Army, Maj.-Gen. Parami Kulatunge.

In other violence overnight, four Tamil Tiger rebels were killed in an attack by a breakaway faction in Vakarai in the east and a soldier was shot dead by suspected Tigers in a separate incident in Trincomalee, further north.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa urged calm and said his government would "act with patience" — a sign officials were moving carefully amid fears the island nation was sliding back into all-out war after a four-year lull.

According to human rights officials, 171 politically motivated killings were recorded in Sri Lanka’s north and east in May.

Authorities blamed the Tamil Tiger rebels for yesterday’s attack on Kulatunge — a charge the rebels deny.

An insurgent leader, Seevaratnam Puleedevan, insisted the Tigers were abiding by the 2002 ceasefire and were committed to peace, but the denial was viewed skeptically by many diplomats and analysts.

In Ottawa yesterday, Dhanapala called the killing of Kulatunge an indication the LTTE is taking advantage of the ceasefire to come into the capital and launch suicide attacks that kill innocent civilians.

Despite the violence, he said he is optimistic there can be peace.

"I know that on one side of the conflict there is a genuine desire to solve it, to have a solution, but we need to have that reciprocated."

Dhanapala said expatriate Sri Lankans can help bring an end to the violence.

"I think the expatriates have a profoundly significant role to play," he said. "They have been providing much of the finance for the LTTE to buy arms and bullets which have gone to killing innocent men, women and children, which have gone into arming child soldiers in this horrendous conflict."

He said he appreciated that contributing money to the LTTE is illegal under Canadian law. Canada listed the LTTE as a terrorist group in April.
"There are very able professionals among the expatriate community, not on

ly in Canada but in other countries, who can contribute enormously to the development of Sri Lanka, particularly in areas where the predominant population are Tamils," he said. Dhanapala said there are also lawyers and constitutional experts who could help Sri Lanka achieve what the President calls maximum devolution within a united Sri Lanka.

Dhanapala, who is a candidate to succeed Kofi Annan as secretary-general of the United Nations, was in Ottawa yesterday to meet with Foreign Affairs officials as part of his UN bid.

Identified by the U.S. publication Foreign Policy as a front-runner for the position, Dhanapala was a Sri Lankan diplomat for 30 years, serving in London, Beijing, Washington, New Delhi and Geneva. He speaks Sinhala, English, French and Chinese.  (Toronto Star)