Koppe: Tamil demand for retributive justice justifiable

[TamilNet, Saturday, 11 June 2011, 21:16 GMT]
Victor Koppe, the Amsterdam-based Bohler advocaten attorney, acting on the recent decision by European Court of Justice that he can legally represent the Europe-based political wing of the Liberation Tigers, said in an interview to the Sunday Leader, that his demand for annulment of the inclusion of LTTE in the EU's terrorism list is partly to stop the prosecution of Tamils in The Netherlands, Germany, France, Switzerland, Italy, and other member countries. Legal sources in Amsterdam said that the Court's decision to allow the LTTE to grant power of attorney to Victor Koppe, may also establish the standing of the EU-based political wing of the Liberation Tigers to file other claims in the EU Court of justice, including possibly complaint against EU-members regarding international law violations arising from imposition of the ban during peace process.

Full text of the interview given to the Sunday Leader is reproduced below:

Sunday Leader: You say that listing the LTTE as a terrorist organization by the EU is illegal; however, they have been recognized globally as a terrorist group. They have also carried out a lot of their fundraising in Europe which went towards the armed conflict. Would lifting a ban allow them to further the goals of an organization viewed internationally as a terrorist group?
Victor Koppe, Advocaat at Bohler
Victor Koppe

Victor Koppe: It was after two decades of non-violent Tamil resistance to anti-Tamil oppression by the Sri Lankan state that the LTTE emerged in 1976 with the aim to fight for Tamil justice and national self-determination through armed struggle. After its military defeat in 2009, the LTTE’s political wing pursues the same aim through peaceful, non-violent, political means. The 2006 EU proscription was contrary to international law in part because the LTTE was a party to an internationally-mediated peace process with the Sri Lankan state, seeking a negotiated settlement to the ethnic conflict.

Sunday Leader: You have said that the ban has resulted in Tamils in Europe being persecuted. However, LTTE sympathizers have been protesting continually around European nations, most recently in England. Despite being a banned organization they are allowed to wave their flags and protest in public areas. Where are they being persecuted and how?
Victor Koppe: These protests do not change the facts that Tamils are in fact prosecuted in The Netherlands, Germany, France, Switzerland, Italy, etc., solely for (financially) supporting the legitimate struggle of the Tamils in Sri Lanka.

Sunday Leader: You draw attention to international law proscribing intervention of a third state. The LTTE allowed and supported the intervention of Norway. Why are they now condemning the intervention of the EU?
Victor Koppe: The Sri Lankan State and LTTE’s mutual assent to Norwegian mediation of the Sri Lankan peace process was a joint decision which invited constructive engagement of a third party in the transition from armed conflict to peace talks, and which reinforced the parity of esteem necessary between negotiating parties. On the contrary, the EU ban further polarized the negotiating environment by criminalizing the LTTE and was a factor which abetted the dissolution of the peace process into armed conflict.

Sunday Leader: You have stated that on 29 May 2009 the LTTE announced it would focus on achieving its goals through political means. Has the LTTE put forth a political party that would contest in Sri Lanka?
Victor Koppe: That is a question for the LTTE itself.

Sunday Leader: You compare the LTTE to the European armed resistance groups in World War II. The LTTE were fighting for a separate homeland but on occasions attacked civilians. Are these actions of a resistance group?
Victor Koppe: Alleged LTTE attacks on civilians must be assessed on a case-by-case basis given the absence of meaningful investigations, Sri Lanka’s culture of impunity and the existence and state support for multiple paramilitary groups active in all areas of Sri Lanka. As a general matter, armed actors which target civilians under conditions of armed conflict violate humanitarian law and should be held accountable by a competent judicial body.

Sunday Leader: Article 6(5) Protocol II to the Geneva Convention calls for amnesty to be granted to all those that participated in the conflict after the conflict is over. The LTTE and its supporters are now calling on war crimes trials to be held involving members of the ruling government. Do these actions contradict the calls for amnesty to be granted to members of the LTTE?
Victor Koppe: No. By January 2009, around 300,000 Tamil civilians were packed into a small strip of beach and shelled for 5 months. Around 40,000 civilians died. The Tamil Diaspora’s request for a post-war retributive justice tribunal is not dissimilar to calls for international criminal justice after the Rwandan genocide, or after armed conflicts in East Timor and Sierra Leone. As to granting LTTE amnesty, virtually all of the LTTE’s senior leadership was killed in battle or after their surrender. A policy of amnesty and reconciliation without justice is unlikely to deter such a massacre from recurring in Sri Lanka.

External Links:
Leader: Petition To Remove LTTE From EU Banned List



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