Tiger cubs and metropolitan Police in London !
Dr. Tilak S. Fernando
Recently Metropolitan Police Commissioner Paul Stephenson in the UK made a statement to a Parliamentary Home Affairs Committee in London about the colossal expenditure the British Tax payer had to put up with, in deploying a mega force to oversee and control a terrorist demonstration outside the British Parliament Square in Westminster, staged by supporters of the LTTE for 43 days- illegally initially, but with permission subsequently granted for 50 demonstrators with the 'alleged intervention of LTTE supporting British MP's'. This was done at a time when the Sri Lankan Security Forces were forging ahead strategically to trap Velupillai Prabakaran, with his inner circle of commandos, and annihilating the lot. Eighteen million pound sterling was quoted as the figure by the Police Commissioner which, according to his own statement, 'could have otherwise utilised for other vital policing exercises to reduce crimes on London Streets'.
One has to bear in mind that the Metropolitan Police Commissioner is a responsible government official who has access to information on terrorist organisations and activities in London. The Metropolitan Police is part and parcel of the British Government and it is empowered with the responsibility of weighing pros and cons and granting permission, in advance, to any organisation or club to hold protest rallies / marches or even social events where crowds gather within the metropolis. In such a perspective the Metropolitan Police Commissioner should have been fully conscious of the LTTE, and their background and underworld activities.
His first priority, therefore, should have been to assess the climate to see whether it was sensible and practical; also whether granting permission to a terrorist outfit, which is banned in the country, fell within the perimeters of the Law - under the Prevention of Terrorism Act. Whether it was feasible to allow a gang of sympathisers of a ruthless terrorist organisation which is proscribed by the British Government to march on London streets, waving Tiger flags, placards carrying the megalomaniac Prabakaran's photograph publicly, wearing T-Shirts distinctly displaying the Tiger insignia on their chests and to bring chaos to the City of London for 43 long days! Even if the Met Police was under pressure by the so-called 'alleged intervention of LTTE supporting Members of Parliament' (one would have thought such indecorous occurrences are found only in developing countries!) what was the police doing for such a long period of time when the City was brought to a lawless situation and commuters were thrown into despair?
Metropolitan Police has adequate knowledge and experience on 'Tigers' for many years operating from London which amounted to hooliganism, law breaking, gang fighting, street disorder, coercion and even murder of their own rival gangs. It was the Metropolitan police who, on many an occasion, have arrested offenders and helped the British Courts to send Tamil lawbreakers to jail on long term sentences.
Peace loving Sri Lankan expatriates in London, on their part, have been continuously feeding the Metropolitan Police with intelligence reports, invaluable information on supporters of LTTE terrorists and their nefarious activities which have helped the Metropolitan police to establish and operate a special computer data-base solely on Tamil criminal activities. In such a back drop, it would be seen as ludicrous for the Metropolitan Police to deny that they were unaware of what to expect when a rally of such magnitude of terrorist sympathisers were allowed to gather and make a mockery of the British Law. Undoubtedly in the eyes of critics this was seen as duplicity and two-faced policies and politics adopted by the very champions (UK) who campaign and beseech other nations to help them eradicate terrorist menace from the modern world.
Diving into the recent past and from the time LTTE theoretician, the late Anton Balasinham was freely allowed to live an extravagant life in London representing the terrorist group by issuing press releases and statements on behalf of the LTTE ; permitted to appear on British Television programmes and BBC radio talk shows without restraint to defend the activities and atrocities of the LTTE , and his Australian wife, a former bar attendant of a Public House in the South East of London, nominated as the Secretary of the LTTE Organisation in Wanni and allowed to travel back and forth from London Heathrow airport to Wanni on secret missions to recruit child soldiers for the terrorist outfit, Metropolitan Police as much as the British Government have turned a Nelsonian eye.
Furthermore, the LTTE headquarters was once allowed to stand right on their door steps at Tavistock Square in Central London and operate on all LTTE terror activities. Subsequently it was moved to East London. In such a scenario, the Metropolitan Police will not have legs to stand on and say they were unaware of what to expect by allowing thousands of LTTE supporters to march on London streets and turn part of the city and the Parliament Square into a garbage skip. The other concealed aspect of the matter would be the additional expenses the Westminster Council had to put up with, in terms of overtime payments to Council staff in clearing the strewn litter by the demonstrators, all of which amount to tax payers money!
Even if one were to sympathise with the Metropolitan Police on this as an isolated incident, considering the general overzealous democratic approach practised by the British on any issue, which unfortunately allows the Central London to become an International dump yard where all global dirty linen is allowed to wash on London streets, commonsense will prevail that it was not a wise idea at all for the Metropolitan Police to have given permission in the first instance for such an abhorrent rally and a picket to take place for such a long time in that manner.
This latest London protest had been organised by the LTTE expatriate sympathisers with the help of some imported elements from neighbouring countries in the West at a time when the Sri Lankan Security Forces were going hammer and tongs to wipe out the LTTE for good. A few powerful Western countries, which condemn terrorism overtly but supported the LTTE covertly, backed them up deviously. They detested the idea of the LTTE getting beaten up. They became obviously annoyed for Sri Lanka going against UN and European beliefs that 'a popular uprising (not even mentioned the term terrorism) cannot be destroyed except through negotiation'.
In Sri Lanka's point of view the democratically elected Government had reached a saturation point in trying to negotiate peace with the terrorists for nearly thirty years. They saw no alternative but to fight the terrorist with the bullet. Defence Secretary and the Chief Commanders worked out on a 'Schlieffen Plan', and awaited for the green light from the Commander in Chief, President Mahinda Rajapaksa
The reprehensible behaviour of a group of two faced western powers then attempted to tarnish the name of Sri Lanka with human rights violations at a UN Security Council session while the Sri Lankan Security forces were engaged in a tiresome humanitarian task of rescuing thousands of civilians, who were being used as human shields by the terrorists.
Finally the Sri Lankan Security Forces made world history by crushing one of the most ruthless terrorist organisations in the world within a matter of two years and ten months, thus qualifying for an entry in the Guinness Book of Records. This became somewhat of an embarrassment to those two faced western powers.
To bring one nation under one flag, Sri Lanka had to fight two wars, a military one with terrorists and a diplomatic and a political battle with UN and many Europe based NGOs and Aid groups who hated Sri Lankan approach!
After the decimation of the LTTE in Sri Lanka, Metropolitan Police in London has an added burden and a responsibility to safeguard all Sri Lankan expatriates living in London against a new wave of terror and crimes reported to be in the increase by the frustrated LTTE supporters.
Call for such safeguard was strengthened by many appeals by expatriates during Sri Lankan TV and Radio live programmes. In the course of the last Thursday evening (4 June) ITN Thulawa programme a lady from London, Mrs. Rosy Weeratunge, was heard appealing publicly to Human Rights Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe to take some immediate and remedial action to protect Sri Lankans living in London to help them go about in their normal day to day tasks without becoming victims to a few disturbed and frustrated Tiger cubs.
The general consensus in Sri Lanka is that the Sri Lanka High Commission in London should take an active role in dealing with this new form of violence in London by working hand in glove with the Metropolitan Police and Sri Lankan expatriates living in the UK.