Canada seizes Tamil-owned buildings, freezes accountsApril 15th, 2008 - 11:30 am ICT by admin
Toronto, April 15 (IANS) The Canadian federal police have seized two buildings belonging to a Tamil organisation which allegedly serves as a front for the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in North America. Since the LTTE was banned by the Canadian government in 2006, the World Tamil Movement (WTM) has been serving as its front for raising funds for their armed struggle against the Sri Lanka government.
The two buildings belonging to the WTM were seized in Montreal and Toronto by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in weekend raids. The authorities also froze the WTM’s bank accounts.
The organisation is already under investigation for its role in fund-raising after the police seized documents in raids on it in 2006. However, no formal charges have been laid against it yet.
WTM lawyer Steven Slimovich admitted that the organisation did raise funds, but he denied any money was being sent to the LTTE after the Canadian ban. He wondered why no charges have been laid against the WTM even two years after the raids and seizure of documents allegedly linking it to fund-raising for the LTTE.
The raids on the WTM come a month after the Royal Canadian Mounted Police arrested a Toronto-based Tamil in Vancouver on charges of raising funds for the LTTE. Prapaharan Thambithurai was arrested in March for targeting Sri Lankan Tamils of Vancouver’s Lower Mainland area for donations.
LTTE supporters were openly active in fund-raising till the outfit was banned by the Conservative government in 2006. According to reports, they often resorted to extortion and threats against Tamil expatriates to collect money. Since the ban, they have operated quietly.
Under Canadian laws, anyone who gives funds to a banned terror outfit can be jailed for 10 years and anyone who raises funds faces up to 14 years behind bars.
With over 250,000 Sri Lankan Tamils living in this country, Canada has the largest concentration outside Sri Lanka.
Of these, about 200,000 live in the Toronto area where they wield a significant political clout in a few ridings (constituencies). It has been reported that thousands of former LTTE guerrillas have also made Canada their home.
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