Supporters of the Tamil Tigers and their 25-year separatist war against Sri Lanka’s government have said they will seek to bring a war crimes case against the authorities in Colombo
By Dean Nelson, South Asia Editor
Published: 3:56PM BST 23 Jul 2009
Expatriates who funded and supported the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), who were defeated militarity in May, have formed a new umbrella group to keep the self-rule campaign alive.
The remaining senior figures in the LTTE have now elected a new leader, Selvarasa Pathmanathan, following the battlefield death of Velupillai Prabhakaran, and said it had abandoned violence in favour of a peaceful campaign for an independent homeland.
Members of the 70-million-strong Tamil diaspora which funded the LTTE have now launched the Global Tamil Forum and plans to use the same source of funds to promote the rights of the estimated 300,000 people displaced when the Sri Lankan army advanced in to the Tigers’ stronghold in the north. They are now being held in poor conditions in detention camps.
The Global Tamil Forum said it would hire a leading human rights lawyer to investigate the possibility of bringing a war crimes case over the thousands of civilians allegedly killed in a “no-fire zone” the government announced in the north as a safe haven. Tamil civilians were encouraged to flee into the zone but were subjected to heavy shelling and mortar fire once there. United Nations officials estimate more than 10,000 civilians were killed in the army’s offensive, while others claim the figure could be higher than 20,000.
The Sri Lankan government denies deliberately targeting civilians.
“The Tamil diaspora under the leadership of the Global Tamil Forum hopes to continue fighting for the human rights of Tamils in Sri Lanka, especially of those 300,000 civilians,” said Father S. J. Emmanuel, a former Vicar General of Jaffna and a spokesman for the new group.