Tue, Feb 06, 2007 - Page 6 News List

Report claims LTTE coercing London's Tamil community


Ethnic Tamils living in Britain are being pressured into donating money to support Tiger rebels in their native Sri Lanka, facing harassment if they refuse, the Times newspaper reported yesterday.

According to the newspaper, which interviewed a number of Sri Lankan Tamils living in Britain, the problem has become so widespread that the country's High Commission in London has alerted the British interior ministry and the Serious and Organized Crime Agency.

"We know the LTTE [Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam] are coercing money from Tamils but it seems that, unlike with al-Qaeda-linked terrorist groups, the police do not have the resources to act," a spokesman for the Sri Lankan High Commission was quoted as saying by the daily.

The Times said that unnamed sources in the police had confirmed that they were investigating the LTTE's activities but would not officially comment on investigations.

A spokeswoman for London's Metropolitan Police said: "The Metropolitan Police Service continues to monitor groups and individuals, and any evidence we get will be considered and appropriate action taken in order to disrupt and deter individuals who provide financial support to terrorists."

The LTTE in Britain are listed as a terrorist organization and are banned from holding meetings or raising money.

There are about 150,000 Tamils in Britain, most of whom live in London, according to the Times.

According to the daily, some Tamils have been pressured with persistent house calls over the past year with requests for between ?1,000 (US$1,970) and ?50,000.

"They said they were collecting for the LTTE. I told them, `We have helped in the past but we're unable to do anything at the moment.' People are very scared to deal with them," an unidentified Tamil shopkeeper told the Times. "They have all the information about you. If they find that you are working against them or not committing, they harass the family back home."

Another Tamil shopkeeper, identified only as Deva, told the daily: "People have to work long hours to feed their children. The LTTE come to visit, demanding thousands of pounds -- just to kill people. The LTTE know how to fight but they don't know how to get around a table and talk."

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