New Zealand's role in Sri Lanka's civil war

Is New Zealand inadvertently supporting the cause of the Tamil Tigers?

In the aftermath of the civil war in Sri Lanka, New Zealand should re-examine the small but potentially incendiary role it may have inadvertently played in the conflict.

In 2005, New Zealand’s Agency for International Development (NZAID) handed over $121,500 in tsunami relief funds to the Tamil Rehabilitation Organisation (TRO), an organisation long suspected of being a front for the Tamil Tigers. That same year, the TRO had its charitable status revoked in Britain because it had “not been able to account satisfactorily for the application of funds.” Two years later, the TRO was blacklisted in the US on the grounds that it was raising funds and seeking to procure weapons for the Tigers.

Despite assurances by the New Zealand Government that it has not subsequently given funds to the TRO, it continues to hand over tens of thousands of dollars of tax payers’ money to community organisations that have functioned as a mouthpiece for the Tamil Tigers.

George Arulanantham, Auckland coordinator of the Consortium of Tamil Associations in New Zealand (, is on record as declaring his support for the Tamil Tigers. In an interview he gave to Eugene Bingham from the New Zealand Herald in 2002, he said, “We are supporters of the LTTE – we feel they are freedom fighters.” This same George Arulanantham is also on the Board of Advisors for the Tamil Community Education (, an organisation that has received funding from the New Zealand Ministry of Education, Auckland City Council and the Lottery Board, yet has made no effort to conceal its indoctrination of Tamil children, including the glorification of the Tamil Tigers at recent ‘cultural’ functions.

The now defeated Tamil Tigers are banned as a terrorist group in over 30 countries including Britain, Canada and the US. They were infamous for recruiting thousands of child soldiers and dispatching hundreds of suicide bombers during their protracted campaign for a separate Tamil homeland. Less well known in the West is the Tigers’ long involvement in global narcotics trafficking and people smuggling.

New Zealand must pull its head out from under the sand and move immediately to deny sanctuary and support to those who seek to provide succour to extremist organisations. To this end, the National Government of Prime Minister John Key should follow through on its 2008 election campaign pledge to proscribe various nefarious groups, including the Tamil Tigers, as terrorist entities. This is all the more important at this critical juncture when the Tigers are pinning their hopes for revival on the concerted efforts of the diaspora in the West.

Migrants to New Zealand must not be allowed to abuse the freedoms we all enjoy in this beautiful country to foment violence and hatred in their countries of origin.