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Sri Lanka proscribes hundreds alongside Tamil diaspora organisations

The Sri Lankan government has announced a sudden and wide-ranging proscription of hundreds of individuals and several Tamil diaspora organisations, as the regime continues to crack down on Tamil civil society and activists.

According to the gazette notification, a number of Tamil organisations and over 300 individuals have been reenlisted under the terrorist designation law. An estimated 35 are Tamils who are listed as residing in Sri Lanka and a few are listed as "LTTE members". The gazette notification further detailed the addresses of those listed.

The organisations include Tamil advocacy groups such as the British Tamil Forum; the Canadian Tamil Congress; the Australian Tamil Congress; the Global Tamil Forum; the National Council of Canadian Tamils; the Tamil Youth Organisation; and the World Tamil Coordinating Committee.

The list also includes a number of individuals currently residing in Sri Lanka such as political prisoner Dr Sivaruban, the former Judicial Medical Officer (JMO) at Palai Hospital in Kilinochchi, who was arrested by Sri Lanka's Terrorism Investigation Division (TID) in 2019. Dr Sivaruban had provided medical reports linking the Sri Lankan army with the so-called 'grease devil' attacks of 2011 as well as the murder and rape of a child by a member of the EPDP paramilitary group. Particular concerns have been raised about the listing of several Tamil youths whose dates of birth indicate that they were children in 2009 when the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) were last active.

This proscription announcement follows a damning report by the UN High Commissioner which warned against the deterioration of human rights in Sri Lanka and highlighted “intensified surveillance and harassment of civil society organisations, human rights defenders and victims”. Tamil activists on the island are frequently interrogated over perceived links to the diaspora. Sri Lanka's embassies are also heavily invested in carrying out surveillance of, and advocating against Tamil communities in the diaspora.

Under the previous Rajapaksa administration, in March 2014, the Sri Lankan government proscribed 424 individuals and 16 Tamil diaspora organisations, alleging they had links to the LTTE.

In November 2015, under the Sirisena administration, after immense pressure from diaspora groups and the international community, the government de-proscribed 8 diaspora organisations and 269 individuals. In November 2015, the gazette continued however to justify the proscription of 8 diaspora groups and 155 individuals, including the Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam (TGTE) and the Tamil Coordinating Committee (TCC). 

Read more here: Sri Lanka looks to ban more Tamil diaspora organisations - reports

See the full notice here.

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