Stop Germany rewriting history by erasing its support for the Sri Lankan Peace Process!
Oppose Germany’s prosecutions of supporters of LTTE!
Germany’s use of terror legislation to prosecute Eelam Tamil activists for their support of Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in the period 2007 – 2009 erases Germany’s own legacy in supporting the Sri Lankan Peace Process. The Peace Process acknowledged LTTE as authentic representatives of the Tamils in the North and East and brought about unprecedented possibilities for a just peace for all communities on the island. Instead Germany’s criminalisation pushes forward US/UK policy that resulted in the mass killings of tens of thousands of Eelam Tamils in 2009 and the continuing genocidal process today. In the latest trial which began in Dusseldorf on 27 April 2022, two of the four accused – Nathan Thambi and Anandarajah – pleaded ‘not guilty’ to committing a crime by raising funds for the LTTE, fighting the terrorist characterisation of LTTE. They are currently appealing in a continuing political and legal campaign and need your support.
2006 EU ban of LTTE a major defeat of Germany’s policy
The situation in Sri Lanka today would be entirely different if the EU’s support of the Sri Lankan Peace Process between the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL) had not collapsed in the face of US pressure. The strong support of the EU for a negotiated peace helped bring about the Peace Process which was initiated by a unilateral ceasefire of LTTE in 2000. Germany’s support was particularly significant, which itself had previously criminalised the LTTE before it broke with the US/UK policy.
At the beginning of the Peace Process the LTTE administered approximately 75% of the traditional homelands of the Tamil people — who had for decades struggled against brutal racial oppression at the hands of the British-constructed Sri Lankan state. However, a negotiated peace where the Tamils and the Sinhalese would share the sovereignty of the strategically important island, was anathema to the US. LTTE control would prevent the possibility for the US to use the island for military basing (see interview with journalist Sivaram discussing the strategic significance of the island to the US – in English with Spanish subtitles).
After systematically undermining the peace process, the US finally succeeded in pressuring the EU to ban the LTTE in May 2006 and reverse its policy in support of a negotiated peace (*see note below). As predicted, following the EU ban the GOSL abandoned the peace and with international support launched an aggressive war in July 2006 to crush the LTTE-administration, and with it the possibility for Eelam Tamils to live with dignity with other communities on the island. The US diplomatic/political interventions against the Peace Process was the primary crime which enabled the genocide which followed (see the 2013 report of the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal on Sri Lanka for an analysis of the crime of genocide).
2010 authorisation of German Ministry of Justice to prosecute LTTE as a foreign terrorist organisation a further defeat of German policy
As atrocities against Eelam Tamils mounted after the GOSL’s new war began in 2006, the US’ role against the LTTE deepened, including organising international ‘contact groups’ to stop money or arms reaching the LTTE administration (as revealed in wikileaks). In line with this, arrests and raids took place across a number of Western states of LTTE supporters, in Australia, Canada, US, France, Italy, UK, where significant numbers of the Eelam Tamil refugees live.
However, while Germany had acquiesced to the EU ban, it did not pursue such actions. The EU ban did not apply directly in German law, and no indication was given by German authorities that Germany considered the LTTE a ‘terrorist’ organisation. Only a year before the EU ban Germany had hosted delegations of the LTTE in Germany, and after the war was launched, unlike the US, Germany expressed support to withdraw financial aid to the GOSL. As the killings reached a crescendo in LTTE-administered territory in 2009 and Eelam Tamils around the world protested the genocide, the German state did not crack down on protests (such as those blocking motorways leading to the Dusseldorf airport in April 2009) unlike in neighbouring France where hundreds of arrests were made in the same time period.
A critical juncture in Germany policy came in 2010, with Eelam Tamils across Germany arrested in a series of raids, only months after the mass killings by GOSL in Mullivaikkal when Eelam Tamils hopes for freedom had been destroyed and they were traumatised by the slaughter of their relatives and loved ones. The arrested were subsequently put on trial while still in detention and convicted for supporting the LTTE, receiving punishment of several years in jail. Since then, prosecutions have taken place across Germany.
According to Ulf Henriccson head of the official Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) the decision to ban the LTTE in 2006 under the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy was a “more high-level decision made in the cafes of Brussels”, stating that “[w]e, the international community on Sri Lanka, the SLMM and the different embassies and the UN, advised the EU not to ban the Tamil Tigers… [b]ut then, everything happened very fast.” He stated that “you have the US behind this decision of course. There had been high pressure from the US and from Great Britain to get this through, but there is also top European Union politicians that thinks this is not a good decision.” That manipulation of EU law furthered the US/UK policy to destroy LTTE.
The manipulation of German law and arrests that took place in 2010 served to control the narrative, acting as if the Sri Lankan Peace Process had never happened, and the achievements of the Liberation Tigers in the Peace Process were non-existent. These actions were a further alignment of Germany policy with the US/UK on Sri Lanka, putting further pressure on the Eelam Tamils both within and outside the Sri Lankan state to distance themselves from the liberation movement.
2022 Eelam Tamil activists Nathan Thambi and Anandarajah challenge terrorist labelling of LTTE in German courts
Disoriented by the massacres of 2009 and sensing that the war against the Eelam Tamils was now continuing in Germany, heavy pressure was put on the defendants to compromise at their legal hearings — in pursuit of a lesser punishment. They were also afraid that their relatives in Sri Lanka, now defenceless, would be harmed if they were to make a stand in an open court.
However in the most recent round of prosecutions which began in April 2022, two of the four defendants, Nathan Thambi and Anandarajah, broke with this position pleading ‘not guilty’ to committing a criminal offence for collecting money for the LTTE during the period 2007 till 2009. They have elected to challenge the injustice of the characterisation of the LTTE as terrorist. They have argued the terrorist designation was illegitimate as a politically motivated act to interefered in an important peace process between the GOSL and LTTE. The two have refused to distance themselves from the LTTE, understanding that to do so would be to acknowledge the legitimacy of labelling the LTTE as terrorists. Instead, they are insisting that the LTTE is the legitimate liberation movement of the Tamil people, a position the German state itself held in helping bring the Sri Lankan Peace Process into existence. Both defendents argue that the characterisation of the LTTE as terrorist as the real crime — giving the ‘green light’ to the Sri Lankan state to carry out their genocidal policies.
Nathan Thambi and Anandarajah’s principled stand allows the elephant in the room, the EU’s ban of the LTTE in 2006, which provided the legal-political framework for the Government of Sri Lanka’s war of extermination, to be challenged. The EU’s ban and similarly the German justice systems characterisation of LTTE as terrorist since 2010 provide justification for the war against the Eelam Tamils since 2006. This includes not only the mass killings of tens of thousands in 2009, but also its ongoing actions on the Sri Lankan state such as the arbitrary detention, torture and rape under the notorious Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA); the ongoing militarisation, Sinhalese colonisation schemes and land grabs in the traditional homelands of the Tamil-speaking people; the denial of Eelam Tamils right to commemorate their history: to commemorate those that have died fighting against genocide and those massacred by Sri Lankan state forces.
Rather than give the green light to the direct perpetrators of this violence, Germany must stand up against the US policy on Sri Lanka which led to the past and continuing crimes.
A manipulation of the law for a political end is a crime in itself
The raids and arrests of Eelam Tamils in Germany took place on 3 March 2010 (with arrest warrants issued on 16 December 2009). The arrested were initially accused under ‘domestic terrorist’ laws. However, when challenged in the courts the arrests were found to be unlawful as the LTTE could not be considered as a ‘domestic terrorist organisation’ in Germany. A hasty decision was then made to charge them under a different section of legislation to keep the arrested in jail.
The court which made a decision on this matter on the 14 April 2010, stating that the Federal Ministry of Justice must authorise their prosecutions as supporters of a ‘foreign terrorist organisation’ within a week or release the defendants.
However, the legislation which allowed for such prosecutions (introduced in Germany in 2002) contained the authorisation process, in part, to protect supporters of legitimate national liberation movements (section 129b). This required the Ministry of Justice to assess whether or not the LTTE’s activities were directed against a regime that respected human dignity and take into account all circumstances of the case. Given the long history of crimes committed by the Sri Lanka state, and the unprecedented killings that had just taken place, it would seem clear such an authorisation would not serve the purposes of this clause. Further the authorisation was given in 2010, for the activities of the LTTE before 2009. Raising obvious questions about Germany’s own support for a ‘foreign terrorist organisation’ by funding organisations such as the Tamil Rehabilitation Organisation and facilitating LTTE leaders to attend meetings in Germany.
2010 justification of authorisation for prosecutions of LTTE by Ministry of Justice remains hidden
Although the fact that political pressure on Germany and the EU from the US/UK resulted in the EU ban of the LTTE is difficult to dispute, what is hidden by the current court cases in Germany is how the pressure continues even after the massacre of the Tamils in 2009.
What political forces are behind these trials was hinted at in the 2011 court hearings when two officials Foreign Ministry officials were denied permission to speak by the German Foreign Ministry which held that their evidence would ‘harm relations between Germany and other states within the EU’ which raises the question of which states (while similar trials in Switzerland in 2018 also revealed the hand of the British Intelligence in a sting operation related to the trial).
A request by the lawyers of Nathan Thambi in the 2022 case for full disclosure of information from the Federal Ministry of Justice for the basis of their authorisation of the prosecutions of the LTTE in 2010, however has been denied. The ability to challenge the validity of this authorisation is therefore impossible. The Federal Ministry further has the power to recognise the authorisation was wrong before a final decision is made on the case.
We are calling on individuals and organisations to take action to demand the German Ministry of Justice immediately release the information regarding the decision to authorise these prosecutions in 2010. We are calling on the Germany Ministry of Justice to also recognise the authorisation was wrong for the reasons outlined above. This must be done before the final judgement is delivered in this case for it to have legal effect which could within one month.
Please email us details of the actions so we can publicise them to email@example.com or tag us on social media twitter, https://twitter.com/imrv_bremen, facebook https://www.facebook.com/imrvbremen/, instagram www.instagram.com/IMRVbremen:
We are calling for the following actions within the next month:
– video messages
– photo messages
– social media posts
– letters (please email us the document so we can send it by fax)
– demonstrations at Germany’s embassies
We also make a call for legal activists and scholars to reach out to offer support on possible legal avenues to continue to fight the Nathan Thambi and Anandarajah cases.
German Federal Ministry of Justice
German Federal Minister of Justice Marco Buschmann
List of German embassies
* Note: The US campaign to achieve its diplomatic victory against the EU is partially documented in US diplomatic cables published by wikileaks which reveal at least 20 separate meetings across 13 European Union states between 19 September 2005 and 24 May 2006 before the EU listing on 29 May 2006. Former Swedish general Ulf Henricsson, then Head of the Sri Lankan Monitoring Mission (SLMM) which was established to police the 2002 Ceasefire Agreement between the LTTE and Government of Sri Lanka, stated publicly in 2007 that “you have the US behind this decision of course. There had been high pressure from the US and from Great Britain to get this through, but there is also top European Union politicians that thinks this is not a good decision.”
In 2012 Mangala Samaraweera stated in the Sri Lankan parliament that: “We should not forget the support given by the US when I was the foreign affairs minister for the proscription of the LTTE in Europe. Then, seven countries in the 25-member EU did not agree with the LTTE ban, and it became a difficulty to adopt the ban as an unanimous decision. Therefore, I met [US] Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice several times and through the offices of Deputy Secretary of State Nicholas Burns, got the consent of those seven nations to proscribe the LTTE on 29 May 2006.”
Despite the humanitarian gains of the peace, despite the popular support of the peace from all communities, every step forward made by the Sri Lankan Government towards sharing sovereignty of the island with the Eelam Tamils, was undermined by the US, beginning with banning the LTTE from attending an aid donor meeting in Washington D.C. in April 2003. While the EU supported ‘parity of esteem’ between the LTTE and GOSL, the US privatelyattacked the EU for sending the European Commissioner for External Relations to meet LTTE leader Prabhakaran in November 2003 with US Assistant Secretary of State Rocca stressing “the LTTE must not be treated as co-equal with the GOSL” (see wikileaks).
In the wake of the December 2004 Asian Tsunami the EU strongly encouraged a joint LTTE-GOSL aid-delivery mechanism, and following the signing of the Post-Tsunami Operational Management Structure (P-TOMS) between the President of Sri Lanka and LTTE, the EU reiterated it strong support in 25 June 2005 and pledged substantial funds, while the US refused to support.