LTTE members in Norway are threatening to kill ordinary Tamils who oppose their terrorist activities, says Sivaraja Rajasingham.
Rajasigham, who was a member of Tamil Eelam Student Organisation (TESO) migrated to Norway in 1987. He escaped an attempt on his life by the LTTE.
`I was approached by two LTTE members who pointed a pistol and threatened to kill me if I don`t stop the campaign against LTTE terrorists,` he told the Sunday Island.
At present, Rajasingham is in the forefront of a campaign for human rights of the Tamils and against the recruitment of children by the Tamil Tigers.
He said it that LTTE members continue to harass ordinary Tamils living in Norway and force them to contribute large amounts of money towards the LTTE funds.
`The Norwegian police ignore these LTTE activities`, he asserted.
Rajasingham said that he was happy that some sections of the Norwegian media now started to expose LTTE activities in Norway, and he was particularly pleased with the article done by `Ny Tid` magazine.
The following are translated excerpts of the Ny Tid article (February 17-23 issue):
In the claws of the Tigers
By: Harald Eraker
One night Rashasingam Sivarajah was threatened with a gun outside his home. The message was crystal clear: If you do not stop criticising the Tamil Tigers, your days are over.
Sivarajah who lives in Oslo fears that he will get a death sentence from the feared guerrilla leader Velupillai Prabhakaran.
Since Norway has not put the Tamil Tigers on their list of terrorists, many people think that Norway is a place of refuge for the guerrilla group.
The Tamil Cooperation Committee in Oslo was asked by the Amnesty campaign to free a man the Tamil Tigers had taken hostage in 2002.
`I have given up. It doesn`t matter anymore. It is just a matter of time before they decide to kill me`, says Sivarajah.
He is one of few Tamils in Norway who dares to openly criticize the Tamil Tigers. Sivarajah is a member of the Liberal Democratic Tamils, a human rights organisation who works across religious and political differences among the Tamils.
It was on a late evening in April 2005 that Sivarajah got the last warning from the feared guerrilla organisation. He had just parked his car near a building complex at Furuseth in Oslo where he lives. When he crossed the road a man suddenly appeared and pointed a gun at him.
`I was terrified. Thinking he would shoot me. Whilst pointing the gun at me he threatened me to stop criticising the Tamil Tigers. This is your second and last warning he said before he told me to wait for further instructions from `annai`. `Annai` means brother and is used as a name for Prabhakaran`, says Sivarajah.
His first thought was to try and escape from the situation. But he quickly decided not to do so when he saw another man hiding in the bushes further down the road.
`Before they disappeared the man with the gun warned me of the consequences if I did not listen to him. If I didn`t, the same would happen to me as to Sathiyarajan Subramaniyam`, says Sivarajah.
Subramaniyam came to Norway as a fugitive in 1990. He also received death threats after criticising the Tamil Tigers. In 1999 he was killed in a car accident when he visited Tamil Nadu in India. `There are many ways to kill a person`, says Sivarajah and showed us a photo of Subramaniyam.
Sivarajan`s story of the death threat he received mirrors what many Tamils now living in Norway are experiencing. The iron grip of the Tamil Tigers also applies in Norway. Lately Ny Tid has been in contact with a number of `Norwegian` Tamils who told how they feel threatened. Apart from Sivarajah none of them dare to say this openly.
`We have a lot of problems with the Tamil Tigers in Norway. But you cannot write my name in Ny Tid`, says a Tamil woman.
`If I say this openly my family in Sri Lanka will get into trouble`, says another Tamil who lives in Norway.
`Everybody is scared`, says a third Tamil.
They are all living in different parts of the country, but they have a common fear of what will happen if they tell their stories.
The most widespread problem is the pressure to pay `revolution tax` to the Tamil Tigers. LTTE`s people in Norway have travelled around the country collecting money to what they describe as `the last war` against the government of Sri Lanka. They used to collect money by forcing people to pay 500 Kroner from their accounts every month through an autogiro agreement. But now they want at least 20,000 Kroner contributions, promising that people will get their money back when the Tamils get their own state. One who does not want to reveal the identity told Ny Tid. Sivarajah refuses to give any money to the Tamil Tigers.
`But I know people who have paid sums of between 25,000 and 50.000 Kroner`, says Sivarajah.
Another Tamil told us that some families have even paid several hundred thousands by mortgaging their houses. `A man I know, who is a social client, paid 300 Kroner a month to the Tamil Tigers. When I asked him why he didn`t buy winter clothes for his children, instead, he could not answer. The tears were streaming down his face`, says Sivarajah.
No one happily pays the `revolution tax` out of own free will. But most people are forced to pay. No one wants even to talk about it because of the fear of the Tamil Tigers, but around half of the Tamils living in Norway are pressured to pay the tax. One Tamil told Ny Tid that they have collected as much as a million Kroner in just one day.
`Most of us just want to avoid trouble when we go to Sri Lanka to visit our families`, says another Tamil.
According to the Tamils who were contacted by Ny Tid, everyone who pays the `revolution tax` gets an ID card as proof of their contribution. The ID card has got a letter followed by a four-digit code. Tamils living in Norway get the letter N in front of the code. When they go back to Sri Lanka to visit families and friends in LTTE controlled areas, they can avoid problems producing `tax cards` to the LTTE.
`When they came to me demanding money I refused to pay. Then they told me that the Tamil Tigers would know I had not paid if I go to Sri Lanka`, says one of the Tamils living in Norway.
Sivarajah says that the Tamil Tigers are following closely what happens in Norway. In December last year, he handed over a letter of his organisation, Liberal Democratic Tamils, to all the representatives of the Norwegian Parliament. In the letter he sought their intervention to release a Tamil who was kidnapped by the Tamil Tigers. `Same night Tamil Tigers had visited my parents who live in Sri Lanka. They were told to make me stop criticising the LTTE`, says Sivarajah.
Many claim that people in the Tamil community in Norway feel that they have to participate when the Tamil Tigers organise meetings in Norway. Annual celebration of Hero`s Day is one of them. This celebration is on the 27th of November, the birthday of Prabhakaran, the leader of the Tamil Tigers.
Ny Tid was also invited for last year`s celebration to see how much support the Tamil Tigers has in Norway. But, Ny Tid received a last minute call from Yogarajah Balasingam, representative for the Labour Party in the Oslo City Council, saying that Ny Tid could not come because it was a closed meeting.
`Only those who have given their life to the Tamil Tigers are commemorated during the arrangement. I am a Tamil and I will never accept how we are being treated as secondary people in Sri Lanka. But when the Norwegian police cannot protect us against the threats from the Tamil Tigers in Norway, how can Norway help the Tamils in Sri Lanka?` asked Sivarajah.
Now he is just waiting for the Tamil Tigers to knock on his door at his home in Maria Dehlis road in Oslo.