Minister of External Affairs Prof. G. L. Peiris has said that the remnants of the defeated Tamil terrorist organization of Sri Lanka, Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) is still active in Australia and asked Australia to proscribe the terror outfit.
In an interview with an Australian newspaper, The Australian, Sri Lankan Minister has said the LTTE network operating in Australia is involved in the people-smuggling business bringing Sri Lankan boatpeople to Australia.
He has suggested proscribing the LTTE in Australia making any support to it from Australia illegal to prevent financing illegal activities.
The LTTE is a proscribed terrorist organization in Europe and North America but, perversely, not in Australia, the Minister has pointed out.
Although the organization was defeated in Sri Lanka and the war between the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE is over, the LTTE networks still intimidate Tamil families in the diaspora and extort money from them, as well as engaging, he believes, in a range of other criminal activities, Minister Peiris has explained.
The Minister during the long interview with the newspaper has said that people-smuggling has long been a key revenue raiser for the LTTE and it is connected with other forms of criminal activity such as money laundering and narcotics.
"The LTTE is still in possession of a large quantity of resources that they accumulated from gun-running, people-smuggling, owning ships. They may have less money now than before, but their expenses now are also much less (now that the military conflict is over)," the Minister was quoted as saying.
Minister Peiris has asserted that the people leaving Sri Lanka are not genuine refugees but economic migrants.
"If they were genuine refugees, why would they not go to India? Its so much closer," the Minister has asked.
Prof. Peiris has praised the co-operation between Canberra and Colombo in suppressing the illegal immigration.
He has also pointed out that groups supporting the LTTE cause are aiding the illegal migration of Sri Lankans to tarnish the image of Sri Lanka as part of a new campaign against the country.
Blackening Sri Lanka's name is also helpful to illegal immigrants who wish to claim refugee status, he has noted.