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Last updated: 15 March, 2006 - Published 15:01 GMT
 
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LTTE deny extortion claims
 
Thamilselvan (L) with Anton Balasingham
Thamilselvan says the report is an attempt to discredit the LTTE
The Tamil Tiger rebels have denied the accusations that they exert pressure on Tamil Diaspora to collect funds for the “final phase” of the war against the Sri Lankan government.

LTTE political wing leader, SP Thamilselvan, said the report by Human Rights Watch with eyewitness accounts from the Tamils in UK and Canada was an attempt to “discredit” their organisation.

He said the LTTE does not have any agents to collect money, anywhere in the world.

"Final war"

“What happens is the Tamils living overseas collect money because they know that these people are affected by war and therefore deserve assistance by their own brethren,” he told the BBC.

In an interview with BBC Colombo correspondent John Sudworth in rebel-held Kilinochchi, Thamilselvan said the report is based upon “false” information.

 What happens is the Tamils living overseas collect money because they know that these people are affected by war and therefore deserve assistance by their own brethren
 
SP Thamilselvan

The often willing support of Tamils living overseas has helped make the Tamil Tigers one of the richest militant organisations in the world, running what is effectively a state within a state.

But the Human Rights Watch report based on interviews with Tamils living in Europe and North America claims the organisation is now increasingly having to rely on extortion and threats to procure funds.

Human Rights Watch also says those collecting the money talk of needing funds for a so-called "final war", although the Tigers and the Sri Lankan government are meant to be in the middle of peace talks.

 
 
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