GTF spokesman says puzzled by banning, unbanning

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The Global Tamil Forum (GTF), a Tamil diaspora organisation, claimed that Sri Lankan authorities failed to provide an explanation why they were banned twice and why the ban has been lifted now.

The ban on GTF was first lifted in 2015 and they were again banned in 2021 before it was lifted a few weeks ago by the Ministry of Defence on the order of President Ranil Wickremesinghe.

Speaking to a local Tamil YouTube news network, GTF Spokesperson Suren Surendiran claimed that the ban on their organisation had no effect on the international community because the Sri Lankan Government never adhered to the procedures for banning an organisation according to UN Charter 1373, which include providing convincing evidence and reports to explain why the specific organisation should be banned and giving that organisation a chance to respond. “The global community did not pay attention to the proscription issued by the Sri Lankan Government because none of these were followed,” Surendiran added.

Surendiran said that last year, despite the ban, the GTF tried to send USD 3 million worth of respiratory machines to the people in the South, but the Health Ministry rejected it through an official mail saying that the GTF is a banned organisation and to send the aid elsewhere. “It was then Minister MP Dr. Sudarshani Fernandopulle who apologised and requested the machines to be sent, but it was too late. The company that took the order cancelled and it was sent elsewhere,” Surendiran noted.

The GTF was one of the six organisations that were unbanned recently by the President in a bid to bring investment as financial meltdown has crippled the country’s economy.

“Despite the ban on GTF, we were interacting with the international community and many leading politicians across the globe, were in touch with regarding Tamil’s issues in Sri Lanka. The ban did not impact on our progress of seeking a solution for the Tamil problem.”

He said if the respiratory machines had arrived, at least half of those who died could have been saved. “The entire issue is politically gripped when no diaspora organisations are against the Sinhalese and that is why the Tamil Diaspora tried to support the southern people to win their trust mainly because there is misconstrued information that the Tamils are against the Sinhalese, a narrative brought by Sinhala politicians.”

In 2016 the GTF joined hands with many international experts to send 25 medical professionals during the major floods in the South with financial assistance from two countries. Then again they imposed the ban, he added.

By Sulochana Ramiah Mohan