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Public meeting: Proscription on trial: the Tamil experience
6.30pm Wednesday 28 October 2009, Committee Room 12, House of Commons, Westminster, SW1 (St Stephens entrance)
Hosted by Siobhain McDonagh MP & Joan Ryan MP
Speakers include: Matt Foot, solicitor; Gareth Peirce, human rights lawyer, Jan Jananayagam, spokesperson for “Tamils Against Genocide”; Les Levidow, CAMPACC; Hyrbyair Marri, Baloch leader; Kazim Aqpak, Kurdish Federation UK
The political aims and role of the Terrorism Act 2000, proscribing ‘terrorist organisations’, have been highlighted by a recent trial of a leading Tamil community representative.
Home Office Minister, Jack Straw claimed that this law would never be used to prosecute humanitarian acts. However on the 12 June 2009 a Tamil man, Shanthan (Arunachalam Chrishanthakumar), was sentenced to two years imprisonment for providing humanitarian support to the Tamil Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Under the law which bans the LTTE in the UK, goods for aid and development, which the Judge accepted were not military , were nevertheless still caught by the ‘terrorism’ law as a ‘benefit for the LTTE’ - even though at the time, the LTTE were not banned in Sri Lanka and a ceasefire was in place.
At a time when Tamils are suffering from renewed persecution by the Sri Lankan state in the current humanitarian crisis, Shanthan’s prosecution has devastating implications for the Tamil people and for all those who actively support human rights.
The Judge said he was bound under the laws to give Shanthan a prison sentence although he believed Shanthan was ‘a thoroughly decent man’ and that he was central to negotiations for peace and resolution of the conflict. In fact in providing support to the LTTE during the ceasefire period Shanthan was doing nothing different to that of the British government, who were also providing aid to the LTTE. The Judge praised Shanthan’s work for the Tamil people in this country and recognised the important need at this time for Shanthan’s role in continuing to support the Tamil community once released from jail.
Why then do laws banning organizations remain in force?
This forum will debate
- the impacts of ‘terrorist’ bans on communities here seeking self-determination abroad, such as the Kurdish, Baloch and Palestinian people;
- collusion among ‘security’ agencies in undermining self-determination, especially through ‘anti-terror’ laws;
- the role of such laws as an instrument of foreign policy and domestic repression; and
- means to resist and undermine such laws through defiance.
There is an urgent need for the repeal of laws designating and banning ‘terrorist organizations’
Meeting is sponsored by the Campaign Against Criminalising Communities (CAMPACC) and the British Tamil Law Foundation
Contact: CAMPACC, firstname.lastname@example.org, tel 020 7586 5892