http://www.bbcsinhala.com

15 March, 2006 - Published 17:39 GMT

Britain urged to protect Tamil Diaspora

Tamil Tiger representatives in the UK “threatened and blackmailed” the Tamil Diaspora demanding large sums of money, according to Tamil activists.

Raj Jayadevan, leader of the Tamil Democratic Congress (TDC), said the rebels launched a campaign in November 2005 to wage the “final war” against the Sri Lanka government.

Although it was common knowledge that the LTTE was engaged in fund raising activities abroad, the rebels agitated the Diaspora by demanding huge sums “up to £100,000”, he said.

£100,000 ransom

“Businesses and Tamil civil society have been approached by the LTTE and threatening comments were made by LTTE officials and also taken personal details of people they have visited,” Jayadevan told bbcsinhala.com.

The community was threatened “dire consequences”, if they refused to give money as demanded, according to the TDC.

Jayadevan, a contributor to the 45-page report by Human Rights Watch (HRW) on extortions by the LTTE, said those who have lived longer in the UK were urged to contribute one British pound a day they lived in Britain.

The activist admitted that some Tamils do contribute voluntarily to the rebels’ fund.

Volantary contributions

“According to HRW, there are about 120,000 Sri Lankan Tamils in the UK. The voluntary contributors for the LTTE cause are roughly about a 1000. But what about the other people?” he questioned in an interview with BBC Sandeshaya.

The TDC urged the British authorities to take measures to protect Tamil community in the UK.

Many Tamils are still reluctant to complain to the police due to language barrier and fear of the consequences, according to Raj Jayadevan.

“But most importantly, there should be a directive from the Home Office, to the respective police stations, informing about LTTE fund raising activities and how to deal without it.”

Without such a directive, he said, the Tamil community in UK may lack the confidence to complain the harassment in the hands of LTTE.