The Minister of External Affairs, Prof. G.L. Peiris has called in the Ambassador of France to Sri Lanka Christine Robichon to express Sri Lanka's concern over the issue of four stamps by the French mail service La Poste depicting images of the banned Tamil Tiger terrorist group Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
Minister Peiris has notified the Ambassador that although the issue of stamps is not facilitated by the French government, it is the government's responsibility to ensure publication of such images of a banned terrorist group should not have happened and urged the French government to cancel the circulation of the stamps with immediate effect.
Emphasizing that this action by an LTTE front organization would harm the reputation of the French government globally, the Minister expressed confidence that the government of France would take immediate action not to give credence to such moves by a terrorist front.
Professor Peiris has pointed out that when governments, especially in the West allow the pro-LTTE groups to operate in such a manner, the Sri Lankan public will question those countries' bona-fides and the Sri Lankan government has to consider the public opinion since the pro-LTTE groups overseas are still seeking to achieve their objectives through different means.
Responding to Minister's concerns, the French Ambassador has said that French Embassy in Colombo has issued a statement stating that these are neither a part of the official philatelic programme of France nor on sale in the French Post Office.
Ms. Robichon has explained that the individuals could order personalized stamps through the La Poste's online services and La Poste had failed to detect the violations of the conditions and had printed the stamps by mistake.
The French Ambassador has confirmed the publication of 360 stamps by La Poste.
However, the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs has informed La Poste that LTTE is a terrorist group banned by the EU in 2006. The mail service has assured the French governmentthat no such stamps will be printed further.
The Minister has pointed out that this is a devious manner the LTTE is raising funds and underlined the need to halt such activities.
While noting the assurance by La Poste on the non publication of the stamps in question in the future following the recognition of the listing of the LTTE as a terrorist organization, Minister Peiris strongly reiterated the need to prevent the use of the stamps originally printed and the Government of France should investigate the persons or organization that ordered the printing of these stamps, especially considering the monetary dimension since there has been a public call for the use of these stamps.