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 Post subject: Charity suspends donations over terror laws
 Post Posted: Wed Apr 19, 2006 10:49 pm 
Charity suspends donations over terror laws

@ The Australian, 18-04-2006

A CHARITY suspected of raising money in Australia to fund terrorist attacks by the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka has suspended hundreds of thousands of dollars in overseas donations amid concern they may be breaching federal anti-terrorism laws.

Months after being raided by the Australian Federal Police, the Tamil Co-ordinating Committee has sought legal advice about whether the donations, some of which were earmarked for victims of the 2004 tsunami, breached Australia’s tough new anti-terrorism financing laws.

Terrorism expert Clive Williams told The Australian that police believe Tamil sympathisers in Australia had sent more than $3 million to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam between April 2003 and November last year.

In a letter to donors, obtained by The Australian, the TCC revealed that all payments had been stopped until internal investigators had checked that they were lawful.

The TCC letter says to "the best of our comprehension the contributions ... were used for the purpose for which they were given".

A spokesman for the TCC, Perambalam Senthvoran, said the committee was seeking legal advice about the fundraising. "In the name of prudence we have suspended the payments until the lawyers come back to us," he said.

AFP agents conducted two separate raids on the TCC and its members late last year on the suspicion that tsunami relief funds were being channelled to the LTTE, a group fighting for independence in northern Sri Lanka.

AFP agents raided the Sydney home of a Tamil Sri Lankan, suspected of having links to the Tamil Tigers, a week after similar raids in Melbourne.

In the Sydney raid, police targeted a member of the Tamil Rehabilitation Organisation, a charity that collected $1.1million in donations following the Boxing Day tsunami.

It is believed police are also investigating the TCC’s suspension of payments.

The moves come amid growing concerns about the LTTE’s activities in Australia, including death threats by its hit squad, the Ellalan Padai, against a Sydney journalist.

The Ellalan Padai, an arm of the LTTE that has been blamed for dozens of murders in Sri Lanka, had reportedly made the threats against journalist Selliah Nagarajah in leaflets handed out at a Hindu community meeting in the Melbourne suburb of Oakleigh.

The New York-based Human Rights Watch has released a report claiming the LTTE had been intimidating and coercing Tamil expatriates, including the 30,000-strong community in Australia, to fund a "final war" against the Sri Lankan Government.

Professor Williams, director of the Terrorism Intelligence Centre, said the LTTE had divided the world into 11 geographic areas for the purpose of raising funds from the Tamil diaspora.

"The Sri Lankan Government is not going to give in to demands for independence ... so it seems to be only a matter of time before the LTTE resumes full-scale hostilities," he said.

"This in turn will place increased pressure on Tamils in Australia to contribute more money for the liberation struggle."

But the chairman of the Australasian Federation of Tamil Associations, Ana Pararajasingham, rejected claims the Tamil community was facing extortion, and said the Human Rights Watch report was biased and vindictive.
(The Australian)

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