Canadian security officials are concerned that last year`s defeat of Sri Lanka`s Tamil Tiger rebels could trigger attacks like the 1985 Air India bombings, says a new report.
The International Crisis Group study quotes unnamed Canadian law enforcement officials saying that supporters of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam might resort to terrorism.
`While there are no signals yet that the rump LTTE is planning a terrorist act, it only takes a handful of committed cadre in the diaspora bent on violence to have a deadly impact,` the report says.
`For example, Canadian law enforcement officials have been concerned that, if left unchecked, LTTE activities could result in an event similar to the terrorist bombing of an Air India jet in 1985, which was planned and funded by Sikh separatists in Canada.`
Canadian Tamil Congress spokesman David Poopalapillai called that `pure speculation` and said that `we as Canadian Tamils and we as Canadian Tamil Congress are opposed to any form of violence, not only in Canada, anywhere, any part of the world.`
Based in Brussels, the ICG is one of the world`s leading think tanks. Its President and CEO is Louise Arbour, the former Supreme Court of Canada justice, and former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan is a board member. It is funded partly by the Canadian government.
The report examines the state of the Tamil diaspora almost a year after the end of the brutal Sri Lankan civil war, which routed the Tamil Tigers rebels who had been fighting for independence.
Canada has the world`s largest Tamil diaspora and was a major Tiger fundraising base. Several Canadians were also involved in procuring arms for the rebels.
The report says the defeat of the rebels has left the diaspora feeling `powerless, betrayed by the West, demanding justice and, in some cases, wanting revenge.`
An unnamed Canadian security official was quoted in the report saying that, `Because of what we learned from Canada`s connection with Khalistan we`re compelled to look at issues concerning the Tamil Tigers here differently.
`As much as it`s a law and order issue in some regards, we also are compelled to treat the Tamil Tigers as a national security issue because we don`t want another Air India disaster.`
The comments are attributed to federal enforcement officials in Toronto and says that French, British and American officials had expressed similar concerns during interviews.
The report says while the diaspora remains committed to an independent homeland, there is little appetite for a return to fighting in Sri Lanka itself, where Tamils are exhausted by war and focused on rebuilding their lives.
It says, `until it moves on from its separatist, pro-LTTE ideology, the diaspora is unlikely to play a useful role supporting a just and sustainable peace in Sri Lanka.`
The Sri Lankan government also must deal with the roots of conflict, notably the insecurity and political marginalization of Tamils, while the UN and Western aid donors need to press for independent investigation of the killings of thousands of civilians in the final months of fighting, it says.
Speaking from London, where he was attending the inaugural meeting of the Global Tamil Forum, an international diaspora group, Mr. Poopalapillai said he supports the calls for an investigation but sees no sign the Sri Lankan government intends to resolve Tamil grievances.
`This government is jailing a man who polled four million votes,` he said, referring to the recent arrest of opposition presidential candidate Sarath Fonseka. `Can you expect any justice from this government at the moment?`