The Microscope

Australia’s Tamil Eelam Lobby

Harshula <>

Last updated: November 20, 2011

Table of Contents

1 Introduction

The war on the battle field may be over, but the propaganda war is alive and well. The Australian news media, particularly the Sydney Morning Herald and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, were in an uncontrollable frenzy two weeks before CHOGM by the predictable lobbying against Sri Lanka. There are legitimate issues that Australia will raise with Sri Lanka during CHOGM 2011. Unfortunately, these publicity stunts may derail or overshadow those conversations and harden the stance of some of the non-Western members of the Commonwealth. The first was John Dowd’s submission of a brief of evidence to the Australian Federal Police. It was timed conveniently just prior to the questioning by the Greens Senator, Lee Rhiannon, at the Senate Estimates hearings. The other was the war crimes charges by Arunachalam Jegatheeswaran, also known as Jegan Waran, against Mahinda Rajapaksa. The latter is frivolous and vexatious, but the former may be of interest to researchers, if made public.

2 Australian Tamil Congress

The Australian Tamil Congress and the British Tamil Forum are linked via the Global Tamil Forum. The explicit goal of the Global Tamil Forum is to create a separate state of Tamil Eelam within Sri Lanka’s sovereign territory:
“To use all resources available to the Tamil Diaspora to establish the Tamil people’s right to self-determination and their right to re-establish their nationhood which was taken away by force from them by the succeeding colonial powers including the Sri Lankan government,
Help empower Tamil people in Sri Lanka to take control of their destiny and clearly formulate and promote the benefits of freedom for all in the pursuit of sustainable growth and prosperity in the self-governing nation of Tamil Eelam.
Founding member organisations
Australian Tamil Congress
Board member - Dr. Rajeswaran
British Tamils Forum
Board member - Mr. Sivarasan”[1][1]
The International Crisis Group described the Global Tamil Forum as:
The GTF is billed by its founding members as a major new effort by the diaspora to advocate on behalf of Tamils in Sri Lanka. It is a conglomerate of elite personality-driven pro-LTTE organisations from fourteen countries that all claim to speak on behalf their respective Tamil populations. The GTF aims to be a quasi-advocacy and humanitarian organisation based in London. It is a markedly less ambitious effort than the TGTE, but equally equivocates on separatism in public. GTF personalities say the organisation will focus Western government attention on the immediate humanitarian concerns of Tamils in Sri Lanka, such as closure of the internment camps, rather than get bogged down in larger political questions. However, hardliners in the GTF, such as the British Tamil Forum (BTF), have reportedly forced out the GTF president, Dr Nagalingam Ethirveerasingam, for moderating his stance on separatism.”[2][2]
Sampavi Parimalanathan, also known as Sam Pari, is the spokesperson for the Australian Tamil Congress.

2.1 Father S. J. Emmanuel

Father S. J. Emmanuel is the President of the Global Tamil Forum, elected in 2010. In 2011 he was refused entry into India and was deported:
“The first was the deportation by India of the Sri Lankan Tamil Catholic priest, Fr SJ Emmanuel, to Dubai, when he arrived at Chennai hoping to meet Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, attend some events at Chennai University and later be at Jawaharlal Nehru University.”[3][3]
“International observers say that India’s denial of entry to Fr. S.J. Emmanuel, a leading propagandist for the LTTE, could be viewed as a major setback for the outfit’s attempt to regroup using Tamil Nadu as a base.
Fr. Emmanuel is the President of the UK-based Global Tamil Forum (GTF), a leading LTTE front.”[4][4]
A decade and a half ago, it was already recognised that Father S. J. Emmanuel was a radical Tamil Eelam proponent:
Sunday, 26 February 1995
SURPRISINGLY, the Tamil Tigers’ cult of martyrdom receives sanction from many Anglican and Catholic priests and the Hindu pundits. Father Emmanuel, a Catholic, explains his Tamil militancy: "First, I was born a Tamil, then I became a Christian. I can’t forget that heritage." The most striking image in Father Emmanuel’s seminary office is a sketch of Jesus Christ laughing robustly, as though enjoying a cracking good joke. In contrast, the priest’s talk is doom-laden, full of God’s new "revelations" arising from "the bomb-blast". Even the Tigers’ suicide-killings are theologically acceptable, the priest insists. "The church refused to let suicides have a Christian burial. But for us, these boys and girls aren’t suicides, they’re martyrs. They are giving up their lives for a higher cause, the way Jesus Christ did." Other Anglican and Catholic clergymen I spoke to were equally reluctant to criticise the LTTE. "Whatever doubts some Tamils might have about the LTTE," one bishop remarked cautiously, "they put them aside. They believe that the Tigers are our only protection against the Sri Lankan army."
As for the Hindus, they have even altered their funeral customs to suit the Tigers. Hindu Tamils killed in combat are not cremated, as their faith demands, but instead are buried. The sight of long rows of tombstones at the Martyrs’ Resting Place outside Jaffna keeps the Tamils’ hatred of the Sri Lankan army at fever-pitch. "Those who fall in battle we plant as seeds for future generations of Tamils," explains one Tiger political worker.”[5][5]

3 Arunachalam Jegatheeswaran (Jegan Waran)

Arunachalam Jegatheeswaran lodged war crimes charges against Mahinda Rajapaksa with the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court. Sydney-based Arunachalam Jegatheeswaran was represented by Melbourne-based Robert Stary Lawyers[6][6] which also represented the three men who pleaded guilty in the Victorian Supreme Court in 2009/2010 for providing funds to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
The media contacts for Arunachalam Jegatheeswaran’s press conference included the phone numbers of the following individuals:
“Mr. Arunachalam Jegatheeswaran – [redacted]
Lucien Richter, Lawyer, Robert Stary Lawyers – [redacted]
Dr. Sam Pari, Spokesperson, Australian Tamil Congress – [redacted]
Mr. Bruce Haigh, former Australian Diplomat – [redacted]”
Arunachalam Jegatheeswaran is described as providing assistance to the LTTE by the Sri Lankan military:
“Arunachalam Jegatheeswaran, or Jegan Waran, strenuously denied allegations he had in any way assisted the Tamil Tigers, or the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam.
"I’m a sympathiser, yes, but not a terrorist," Mr Waran told The Australian.
Mr Waran, an Australian citizen, said he had worked in northern Sri Lanka as a "freelance volunteer" from February 2007 to May 2009, when the war ended.
But since the aborted war crimes charges were made, the Sri Lankan government had sought to portray him as a committed Tamil militant, "well connected to the LTTE hierarchy".
According to the Sri Lankan military’s website, Mr Waran was chosen by deceased Tigers boss Velupillai Prabhakaran to escort his family to safety in the final stages of the war. Colombo also alleges he used his technical expertise to build military infrastructure used by the LTTE.
Mr Waran denies the allegation: "That’s completely untrue," he told The Australian yesterday. Mr Waran said he had seen Prabhakaran’s parents in the conflict zone at the end of the war, but denied he had been selected to escort them to safety.”[7][7]
Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Defence has gone on the offensive and asked some uncomfortable questions on whether the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) is breaching its Code of Practice by broadcasting a piece that did not attempt to adhere to the principles of journalism.[8][8] The Ministry of Defence “News Bulletin” makes the following allegations:
Arunachalam Jegatheeswaran is the father of Brami Jegatheeswaran, also known as Brami Jegan. Brami Jegatheeswaran was a NSW Green’s Senate candidate. She was placed third on the ballot behind Lee Rhiannon and Keith Mcilroy. [9][9]
Arunachalam Jegatheeswaran’s brother, Brami Jegatheeswaran’s uncle, is Arunachalam Chrishanthakumar, a convicted criminal in the UK. He was convicted for supplying the LTTE military equipment:
“A British Tamil leader has been convicted of supplying bomb-making equipment to the Tamil Tigers, in a new blow for the rebels as they battle Sri Lankan forces bidding to end a three-decade-long war.
Arunachalam Chrishanthakumar, 52, was found guilty of coordinating supplies of material to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), of which he has been alleged to be the leader in Britain.
He was also convicted of receiving documents for the purpose of terrorism, after a trial at Kingston Crown Court, southwest London.
During the trial, prosecutor Jonathan Laidlaw said that police became aware in 2004 that Chrishanthakumar was buying military clothing and equipment intended for shipment to rebel forces in Sri Lanka.
The material was found to include computers, printed circuit boards, remote control equipment, radio transmission components and satellite equipment.
Officers did not arrest him, but told him to cease the activity - which Chrishanthakumar claimed he was sending to Sri Lanka to help poor farmers.
Three years later, police carried out a search of his home and "despite the warning when the police became aware of that activity, he had continued with his support activity on the LTTE’s behalf," Laidlaw said.
He added that Chrishanthakumar, also known as AC Shanthan, had headed the United Tamil Organisation in Britain before it became outlawed in 2001. The LTTE is designated a terrorist organisation under British law.”[10][10]
Brami Jegatheeswaran lived in the UK between 2004 and 2007 before returning to Australia as a radicalised Tamil Eelam lobbyist. While in the UK she did editorial work for the Tamil Guardian.
Brami Jegatheeswaran has worked for the Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) as a journalist and Union Aid Abroad (APHEDA) as a communications officer[11][11] 6frgczf-1225890477817. She is also linked with the Australian Tamil Congress:
“By Nathan Sri and Brami Jegan from the Australian Tamil Congress”[12][12]
She was romantically linked in 2008, till 2011, with Antony Loewenstein, of the ’Sri Lanka Campaign for Peace and Justice’, who also espouses Tamil Eelam lobby propaganda:
“Despite the fact that the government murdered at least 40,000 Tamil civilians during the last period of the war (a figure confirmed by then UN spokesman in Colombo, Gordon Weiss), the international community has been reluctant to hold officials to account.
A thorough UN-led investigation found overwhelming evidence of war crimes committed by both sides during the conflict and Ban Ki-Moon recently submitted this report to the UN Human Rights Council for investigation. The move was condemned by Colombo.”[13][13]
The UNSG Advisory Panel report actually refers to “credible allegations” of crimes, not “overwhelming evidence”.[14][14] Interestingly, Gordon Weiss actually states the opposite of “at least 40,000”:
“We do have pretty good indications that probably somewhere between ten and forty thousand people were killed. This is not my own figure, plucked from nowhere. It’s credible enough for the UN to have used it as part of its assessment in to the available evidence.” [15][15]
Brami Jegatheeswaran is nominally a “Visiting Scholar” at the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Sydney for the “Sri Lanka Human Rights Project”[16][16] The convenor for the project is Associate Professor Jake Lynch who is the Director of the ’Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies’. Bruce Haigh, a former Australian diplomat, is a patron for the project.

4 Bruce Haigh

Bruce Haigh also has a tendency to espouse rhetoric directly from the Tamil Eelam lobby’s hymn sheet:
“The UN report estimates 40,000 Tamil civilians were killed towards the end of the war, some, as already noted, by the navy. In addition, 4,000 Tamil soldiers (LTTE) are being held incommunicado by the government. The 500-page UN report notes that:”[17][17]
The 200-page UNSG Advisory Panel report does not estimate “40,000” Tamil civilian deaths. The Advisory Panel refers to a possible civilian death toll range comprising of a lower bound defined by the UN’s estimate, of 7,000, and an upper bound defined by non-UN estimates, of 40,000, in the final 5 months of the war.[18][18] Impartial commentators do not refer to the Tamil Tigers as “Tamil soldiers”.
Bruce Haigh also claims an “ongoing genocide” of Tamil people:
“"More importantly, however, the issue of the ongoing genocide of the Tamil people by the government of Sri Lanka needs to be considered urgently and CHOGM is the forum in which to do it," Mr Haigh said in joint statement with Mr Jegatheeswaran.”[19][19]
USA’s Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) Ombudsman, Michael Getler, agrees that the claim of genocide is "on the outer fringe of opinion about the conflict”:
“But as far as I can tell, no major human rights group such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch has described the situation as "genocide," meaning a planned and systematic killing of a whole people or nation.
Fuller quoted M.I.A.’s "genocide" statement on the Smiley program in his Times article and described the singer’s views as "on the outer fringe of opinion about the conflict."
But it seems to me the criticism of Smiley’s role is fair because he essentially invited her views and offered a "platform" without any probing. "When you say there’s genocide happening there, what’s your sense for why a story of genocide isn’t being covered more in the media? Why don’t we know more about this?" he asked. M.I.A. said it was "due to the propaganda." But the larger, unstated reason, which did not surface during the program, is that none of the reporting agencies one usually looks to for such judgment has made that judgment.
There are prohibitions and obstacles to coverage of the situation by both sides, but there has been a fair amount of reporting from Sri Lanka by The Washington Post’s Emily Wax, for example, and by British newspapers and international human rights organizations. But, again, this has not been described, thus far, in any of these places as genocide.” [20][20]
Bruce Haigh had more to say. Take note of his broad vilification of the Sinhalese and the assumption that Tamils are a homogeneous group with no recognition of the schisms within the Tamil speaking communities in Sri Lanka:
“BRUCE HAIGH, FORMER AUSTRALIAN DIPLOMAT: I think just because the Sri Lankan government won the PR battle. The Tamils lost that a long time ago. They’ve had three decades of being ground under by the Sinhalese. That’s why the Tamils wanted a separate state.”[21][21]
“... it would also have fed into the ongoing campaign of vilification and racism being conducted toward the Tamil community by the Sinhalese.”[22][22]
One wonders whether the articles by Bruce Haigh, in particular some extracts, contravene Austraila’s Racial Discrimination Act:
“It is unlawful for a person to do an act, otherwise than in private, if: (a) the act is reasonably likely in all the circumstances to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person or group of people, and (b) the act is done because of the race, colour or national or ethnic origin of the other person or some or all of the people in the group.”
There is more rhetoric:
“The government of Sri Lanka maintains this pressure despite having won the war against the Tamil people in 2009. This pressure, with its attendant attitude of hostility toward the Tamils, is a strong statement about the bleak prospects for reconciliation on the part of the Sinhalese majority in Sri Lanka and members of the expatriate community toward the Tamil minority.”[23][23]
That must be why Sri Lankan Tamil refugees are slowly returning back to Sri Lanka according to the UNHCR (12 October 2011):
“By the end of September, UNHCR had helped 1,493 Sri Lankan refugees (466 families) return home to the north and east. All came back by air. The returns are mainly from India (1,448) while small numbers have also come back from Malaysia, Georgia and the Caribbean island of St. Lucia. Last year, a total of 2,054 Sri Lankan refugees returned home compared to 800 the previous year.”[24][24]
Extraordinarily, it seems the only issue Bruce Haigh has with the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, former Prime Minister of India, by the LTTE is that it was “politically stupid”:
“Given that LTTE acts of terror over three decades were carried out inside the country, with the exception of the politically stupid murder of Rajiv Ghandi in India in 1991, and that the war is now over, it is probably time to drop the single source vetting of former members and associates of the LTTE as terrorists; particularly when all members of the Tamil community in the north of Sri Lanka were associates of the LTTE in one way or another.”[25][25]
Bruce Haigh’s surreal commentary ends with the accusation, that “all members of the Tamil community in the north of Sri Lanka” were LTTE associates. That will come as news to the many Tamils that opposed the LTTE and documented the crimes committed by the LTTE.
Bruce Haigh continues:
“Outside agencies must rely on advice for security clearances relating to Tamils living in Sri Lanka on the Sri Lankan security agencies. These agencies have been fighting the Tamils for the last three decades. They remain hostile toward the Tamils; they are the enemy.
They classified the military wing of the Tamil movement, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE), as terrorists and in an atmosphere of heightened tension following the 9/11 attacks, were able to get a number of countries, some of them powerful, to also list the LTTE as a terrorist organisation.”[26][26]
Has Bruce Haigh considered that once the LTTE began employing terrorism against innocent civilians to achieve its political goals, it became a legitimate target for proscription under the anti-terror laws? Australia is the anomaly amongst her peers for not banning the LTTE.

5 John Dowd

The Australian Tamil Congress and Global Tamil Forum organised an event on October 20, 2011, where John Dowd and Meena Krishnamoorthy were speakers.[27][27] Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Defence made a series of serious allegations against Meena Krishnamoorthy regarding her association with the LTTE.[28][28]
Like many of the other actors in this drama, it appears John Dowd is not an impartial commentator. On May 6, 2008, he conveyed one of his motivations:
“Justice John Dowd, a former Chairman of the International Commission of Jurists and a former NSW Attorney General spoke of the increasing influence of China and called upon the international community to recognise that Sri Lanka needs to be transformed into two states and structures developed for these states to coexist and cooperate.”[29][29]
and in 2010:
“More than 10,000 registered to cast their votes in the referendum across Australia last weekend, on the creation of independent Tamil homeland in Sri Lanka, reported SBS Australia, citing organisers.
But, it won the support of John Dowd, the president of the International Commission of Jurists in Australia, SBS said, citing him saying that the referendum highlighted the aspirations as well as the plight of Tamils in the island of Sri Lanka. "Australians need to be reminded that there is a common obligation to these people who for centuries or indeed millennia have led their own lives there," John Dowd further said.”[30][30]
John Dowd was sighted in the scopes of Tamil Eelam lobbyists back in 2001:
“I have written to our Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Commonwealth Secretariat in London to suggest the inclusion of Sri Lanka on the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Brisbane in October and I look forward to some sort of positive response”, the Hon. Justice John Dowd said in a letter to the MP.
Mr.Pararajasingham had met Hon. John Dowd, President of the ICJ (Australian Section) and briefed him about Sri Lanka’s ethnic problem during a recent visit to Australia. Mr. Pararajasingham brought to his notice the atrocities, human rights violations taking place in the Tamil dominated northeast province by the Sri Lankan security forces.
Mr.Pararajasingham had cited several instances where Tamil women were raped and tortured by the Sri Lankan security forces dominated by the Sinhala soldiers. He made an appeal to Justice John Dowd to use his good offices to persuade the Australian Foreign Minister to include the Sri Lankan ethnic issue in the agenda of the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting to be held in Brisbane in October this year.
Hence the letter written by Justice John Dowd to the Australian Foreign Minister Mr. Alexander Downer and the Commonwealth Secretariat requesting the inclusion of the Sri Lankan ethnic issue on the agenda of the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting.”[31][31]
John Dowd retired from the NSW Supreme Court in 2004, because he felt targeted by the then Prime Minister of Australia and Premier of NSW:
“Yesterday Justice Dowd blamed Bob Carr’s and John Howard’s attacks on his stance against anti-terrorism legislation for his resignation.”[32][32]
The Australian anti-terror laws are over-reaching and make targeted minority communities particularly vulnerable.
Public pronouncements by John Dowd related to his involvement with Tamil Eelam lobbyists began around 2004/2005:
“Justice John Dowd, president of the International Commission of Jurists and soon-to-retire member of the NSW Supreme Court, officially launched the booklet. He told the audience: "I recently went to a Tamil fundraising function. I went to a similar function a year ago, and I didn’t check that the money didn’t go directly to buying bullets. This function was to buy ambulances."
Referring to the fact that it is an offence punishable by 15 years’ imprisonment to unknowingly give funds to a listed terrorist organisation, Dowd said: "I bought $40 worth of raffle tickets, because I wanted to make a point. I’m appalled that I have to audit my dollar back to Jaffna before I can agree to donate."”[33][33]
In 2005, he was the keynote speaker at an event with a larger-than-life picture of Prabhakaran in the background:
“Federal Member of Australian parliament, Ms Julie Owens, Chairman of International Commission of Jurists Justice John Dowd and several hundred Tamils from Sydney and adjoining counties participated in an event held at the Ryde Civic Center in Sydney Sunday in support of the Tamil Resurgence events being held by fellow Tamils in the NorthEast. The event was organized by the Australasian Federation of Tamil Associations (AFTA), an umbrella organization of Tamil groups in the region.
The key note speaker, Justice John Dowd, a prominent Australian Human Rights Activist, and Chairman of the International Commission of Jurists drew attention to the need to keep the international community informed of developing political situation in Sri Lanka.
Rev John Barr, the National Secretary of the Uniting Church in Australia and Tamil activists and political commentators Mrs. Margaret Pararajasingham and Mr Thanapalasingam also spoke.”[34][34]
John Dowd’s views on the rehabilitation of ex-LTTE cadres were described as:
“In a move condemned by a leading international law advocate, Australia’s high commissioner to Sri Lanka, Kathy Klugman, took part in a ceremony in Colombo on Friday to release about 1800 Tamils after what the military called ’’a two-year rehabilitation program’’. But John Dowd - president of the International Commission of Jurists in Australia and former New South Wales attorney-general - condemned the program in the camps as ’’re-education, not rehabilitation’’.”[35][35]
“But John Dowd, president of the International Commission of Jurists in Australia, says the camps are run for re-education, not rehabilitation purposes.”[36][36]
However, Tamil National Alliance MP, M.A. Sumanthiran disagreed:
“A parliamentarian for the Tamil National Alliance, M.A. Sumanthiran, says the brigadier has ’’done very good work’’ in helping rehabilitate some fighters, but that the continuing detention of thousands in secret is ’’just illegal’’.”[37][37]
BBC Hard Talk presenter Stephen Sackur investigated the rehabilitation program in 2010 and was impressed:
“Children exposed to horrors no child should ever see. Which makes the transformation in just one year all the more remarkable.”[38][38] [39][39]
John Dowd is the President of ActionAid Australia[41][41], formerly known as Austcare:
“Austcare is fully accredited with the Australian government aid agency AusAID, a member of the International Council of Voluntary Agencies and the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID), and abides by the ACFID Code of Conduct.”[42][42]

6 Attemps to ban the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in Australia

Australia stands out as an anomaly among its peers for not having banned the LTTE as a proscribed terrorist organisation. The current state of affairs is not due to a lack of trying on behalf of the Australian government.

6.1 Howard government

During the tenor of the Howard government, there were attempts to ban the LTTE around 2005/2006. This was during the post-tsunami period and the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID), the umbrella body for Australian international development NGOs, lobbied strongly against the banning. The practical reason was apparently because these NGOs needed to provide money to the LTTE in order to get access and they feared being prosecuted if the LTTE was banned in Australia.
To be proscribed as a terrorist organisation under the Criminal Code requires agreement by the states:
“(2) If a majority of the other parties object to the making of a regulation specifying a terrorist organisation within a time frame nominated by the Commonwealth and provide reasons for their objections, the Commonwealth will not make the regulation at that time.”[43][43]
The majority of states did not agree to banning the LTTE at this time.

6.2 Rudd government

The Rudd government received agreement from the the States for the banning of the LTTE. The Rudd government explicitly indicated to the relevant State government departments of the impending banning. The States were advised to prepare to liaise with the Tamil community, but the ban never eventuated. Academics, political advisers and observers remain perplexed by the events that transpired.

7 Conclusion

The Australian news media has been unable to differentiate between those primarily motivated by separatism, the creation of Tamil Eelam, and those primarily motivated by human rights issues in Sri Lanka. Unfortunately, the Tamil Eelam lobbyists are radicalised ’true-believers’ that shout the loudest and drown out the voice of the majority of Sri Lankans, Sinhala and Tamil. The media, with their time constraints, want a quick and controversial story. Hence it is unlikely the Australian media even knew of Arunachalam Jegatheeswaran’s background or John Dowd’s political views. Ignorance rather than malice is the likely reason for the omission of material facts.
Amusingly, the Sydney Morning Herald’s Asia-Pacific editor, Hamish McDonald, commented on October 29, 2011:
“Should Australia join a push for accountability, Sri Lankans could come to thank us: they’re left with reduced freedom, security and prosperity from the ’’white van’’ abductions and murders of government critics, and the nepotism that also came with Rajapaksa, and seem likely to stay long after victory over the Tigers.”[44][44]
One definite outcome of the propaganda campaign in Australia is that it solidifies the support for Mahinda Rajapaksa in Sri Lanka.

8 Version History


[11] 6frgczf-1225890477817