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* Diaspora's call for separate state gives excuses for Sri Lanka to enforce anti terrorism laws - International Crisis Group
Wed, Feb 24, 2010, 11:36 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Feb 24, Colombo: The Tamil diaspora's continued calls for a separate Eelam state in Sri Lanka feed the fears of Sri Lanka and give excuses to maintain the tough anti-terrorism and emergency laws, an international conflict resolution group says.

The independent Brussels-based International Crisis Group (ICG) says while the Tamils have the democratic right to call for a separate state non-violently, there is virtually no domestic or international backing for a Tamil Eelam.

In a report released Tuesday titled "The Sri Lankan Tamil Diaspora after the LTTE" the ICG says the Tamils outside Sri Lanka continue to support a separate state, and the diaspora's money can ensure it plays a role in the country's future.

"While the million-strong diaspora cannot regenerate an insurgency in Sri Lanka on its own, its money and organisation could turn up the volume on any violence that might eventually re-emerge," the report warns.

The ICG says despite that the funding networks established by the LTTE over decades are weakened but still functioning, the possibility of Tigers regrouping in the diaspora is slim.

However, the overseas Tamils' profound commitment to Tamil Eelam has widened the gap between the diaspora and Tamils in Sri Lanka, as they try to rebuild their shattered lives by decades of war.

The Crisis Group says the diaspora have neglected calls by Tamil leaders in Sri Lanka for substantial political reforms within a united Sri Lanka

"Unwilling to recognise the scale of defeat, and continuing to believe an independent state is possible, however, many diaspora leaders have dismissed Tamil politicians on the island either as traitors for working with the government or as too weak or scared to stand up for their people's rights," the report said.

The diaspora's has put forward new initiatives for non-violent autonomy by pressuring Western governments to accept the "transnational government of Tamil Eelam", calling for a separate state, boycotting against products made in Sri Lanka and advocating in support of international investigations into alleged war crimes by the Sri Lankan state have.

However, they have failed to criticize the LTTE or hold it responsible for its own crimes or its contribution to the shattered state of Sri Lankan Tamil society, the ICG report noted.

The Crisis Group says until the diaspora moves on from its separatist, pro-LTTE ideology, it is unlikely to play a useful role supporting a just and sustainable peace in Sri Lanka.

The group also suggests the Sri Lankan government to address the legitimate grievances at the root of the conflict to ensure the current peace is a lasting one.

However, the ICG expresses little faith in the government saying that statements made by President Mahinda Rajapaksa since his January 2010 re-election suggest there is little chance the needed political and constitutional reforms will be offered in his next term.

The ICG also recommended that donor countries and organizations to tie their aid to Sri Lanka to government initiatives on political reforms to address the minorities.

"There should be no blank cheque for Colombo to redevelop the north and east without first creating a political climate where Tamils and Muslims can freely express their opinions and have a meaningful role in determining the future of the areas where they have long been the majority," the report suggested.

The Crisis Group also asked the donor governments and the UN to press more strongly for an independent inquiry into the thousands of civilians, almost all Tamil, killed in the final months of fighting.

"Their aid should be tied to an end to impunity for human rights violations and abuses of political power that undermine democracy and threaten the freedoms of Sri Lankans from all ethnic communities," ICG concluded.

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