U.S. freezes TRO funds

[TamilNet, Thursday, 15 November 2007, 15:10 GMT]
The U.S. Department of the Treasury on Thursday announced that it would freeze the U.S.-held assets of the Tamils Rehabilitation Organization (TRO). A press release, issued by the U.S. Embassy in Sri Lanka charged that the TRO has acted as a front to facilitate fundraising and procurement for the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Robert Blake, the U.S. Ambassador for Sri Lanka, is scheduled to address media Friday in Colombo on the funds freeze of the TRO by the United States Department of the Treasury.

Full text of the press release issued by the U.S. Embassy in Sri Lanka follows:

Tamils Rehabilitation Organization (TRO)
Designated under Executive Order 13224
November 15, 2007

Colombo, November 15, 2007: The U.S. Department of the Treasury today announced that it would freeze the U.S.-held assets of the Tamils Rehabilitation Organization (TRO), a charitable organization that acts as a front to facilitate fundraising and procurement for the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). The LTTE has been designated by the United States as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist Organization since 2001 and a Foreign Terrorist Organization since 1997. The Tamils Rehabilitation Organization (TRO) was designated today under Executive Order 13224, which is aimed at financially isolating terrorist groups and their support networks. E.O. 13224 freezes any assets held by designees under U.S. jurisdiction and prohibits U.S. persons from transacting with designees.

The LTTE is a terrorist group that has waged a violent secessionist campaign for over two decades to secure a separate state for Tamil-majority regions in Sri Lanka's North and East. The conflict between the LTTE and Sri Lankan military forces has claimed over 60,000 lives and displaced hundreds of thousands of Sri Lankan citizens.

In the United States, the TRO has raised funds on behalf of the LTTE through a network of individual representatives. According to sources within the organization, the TRO is the preferred conduit of funds from the United States to the LTTE in Sri Lanka.

The TRO also has facilitated LTTE procurement operations in the United States.

Those operations included the purchase of munitions, equipment, communication devices, and other technology for the LTTE.

The TRO's efforts worldwide reportedly have allowed the LTTE to use humanitarian aid, which TRO collected for the international community after the December 2004 tsunami, to launch new campaigns to strengthen LTTE military capacity.

According to its website, the TRO maintains a headquarters office in Kilinochchi, Sri Lanka and operates branch offices throughout Sri Lanka and in seventeen countries worldwide, including the United States, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Malaysia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

The LTTE oversees the activities of the TRO and other LTTE-linked non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Sri Lanka and abroad. Directives issued by the LTTE suggest that LTTE-affiliated branch representatives are expected to coordinate their efforts with the respective the TRO representatives in their locations and report all activity to the LTTE.

Recent information indicates that the LTTE has ordered international NGOs operating in its territory to provide all project funding through local NGOs, which are managed collectively by the TRO. This arrangement allows TRO to withdraw money from the local NGO accounts and to provide a portion of the relief funds to the LTTE. The LTTE has reportedly exerted pressure to comply on a few international NGOs that have resisted these arrangements.

The U.S. Department of State designated the LTTE a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) on October 8, 1997, in accordance with Section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, as amended. On November 2, 2001, the U.S. Department of State named the LTTE a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) under E.O. 13224. The LTTE has also been listed as a terrorist organization by the European Union and Canada.

An entity designated under E.O. 13224 may request a delisting from the U.S. government under published procedures if it can establish that there is insufficient basis for the listing or that it has taken remedial steps that would remove the basis for the designation.

The United States continues to support a just, negotiated political settlement to the conflict in Sri Lanka that meets the aspirations of all communities, including Sri Lanka's Tamils. The U.S. will continue to vigorously support efforts to stop human rights violations against Tamils, including abductions and threats against Tamil journalists.

Identifier information for Tamils Rehabilitation Organization, including AKAs and address information for its branches worldwide, can be found at the following link: www.treasury.gov/offices/enforcement/ofac/actions/index.shtml.



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