Below is the abridged version of a former LTTE cadre Oppilan’s story that he wrote himself. Some of the names have been blacked out for OPSEC/PERSEC reasons. I decided to post this here in the wake of the Indian Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Jaffna next week, so that all the Indians would have an idea of how Jaffna was recaptured from the LTTE’s grip in October 1995.
The Irreplaceable ‘05’ File
LTTE nom de guerre– Oppilan (Dog Tag-0:869)
Code Name at the Direcotrate of Military Intelligence of GoSL - 05
My name is ******************. I am originally from Sri Lanka and came to Canada in 1997 as a political refugee. I became a Canadian citizen of Tamil nationality in 2009. I am married and have three children who were born in Canada. Sri Lanka has been politically and economically destabilized due to an ethnic conflict that lasted over three decades. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), also known as the “Tamil Tigers”, a secessionist-cum-insurgent group had been fighting against the Sri Lankan government to establish a separate homeland for Tamils in the northern and eastern parts of Sri Lanka. My family and I were directly affected by this conflict.
I was only 17 when I was kidnapped from my high school and was forced to work for the Tamil Tigers. I’m sure everyone has heard of the organization’s controversial “conscription” and the way they recruit teenagers. I was the firstborn son with an older sister and three younger brothers. Since I was the eldest boy I had no choice but to join, otherwise my younger brothers would have faced hardships. One day in 1991 - while I was doing my GCE Advanced Level in mathematics at Jaffna/Kokkuvil Hindu College - 19 students including me were taken to a LTTE camp where we were forced to help them build trenches to supply food and ammunition to the front defense line. We were wearing white shirts as school uniforms – which made us more visible – and when there was an aerial bombing it caused a few casualties so the LTTE commanders became upset with us. There was a disagreement between the students and the LTTE, which became physical and in the end we were all beaten and put in a dark underground bunker for 5 days. The LTTE used this opportunity to their advantage and gave us the option of either joining the organization or staying in the bunker. We had no choice but to join. This was good for the LTTE since they had effectively recruited 19 students with a good education, knowledge, and background straight out of college.
All the students were taken to a training camp 20 km away from Jaffna and given basic military training for 6 months with 150 other recruited cadres. After taking part in three battles with the Sri Lankan Army I was sent to LTTE’s military office for three months of academic training. In 1993, after completing a one year intelligence training program, which included intelligence gathering, analysis, agent recruitment, handling and exploitation on a national level, I was appointed as the Naval Intelligence Officer of the LTTE, in charge of intelligence for Sea Tigers and Air Tigers. I was only 20 at this time. One of the reasons that the LTTE appoints such young cadres for these posts is the lack of educated members in the organization.
I was responsible for gathering intelligence on Sri Lankan naval bases, harbours, naval vessels and personnel. Since LTTE operated from an island, it depended largely on the sophisticated amphibious group known as the “Sea Tigers” for logistic support. Their duty was to establish “sea denial” strategy and/or take control of the north and east territorial waters of Sri Lanka in order to support the special “Exclusive Economic Zone - Marine Logistics Support Team” (EEZ-MLST) known as the “Aazh Kadal Vzhankal Pirivu”of the Sea Tigers.
It was there I coordinated with the Sea Tigers in order to gather intelligence on the Sri Lankan Naval bases and vessels. I also collaborated with the special “Underwater Demolition Teams” (UDT) of the Sea Tigers known as the “Neeradi Neetchal Pirivu”, which infiltrated the harbours and gathered maritime intelligence. Acquiring the “Jane’s Naval Fighting Ships” catalogue made it easy to build models of each and every class of the Sri Lanka Navy fighting ships/gun boats. The EEZ-MLST’s sophisticated maritime surveillance radar systems, Global Positioning Systems (GPS) and the dual-purpose special binoculars known as the “Steiner” helped to keep maintain surveillance on daily naval patrolling.
My other responsibilities included gathering intelligence on Sri Lankan Air Force bases, aircrafts, helicopters and personnel. To facilitate this task, I coordinated with the “Long-Range Reconnaissance Patrol” (LRRP) team operating under the LTTE’s military wing, known as Viseda Vevu Pitivu, and the special “Air Tigers” of the LTTE. The LRRP team infiltrated and gathered intelligence on the Air Force bases, runways, signal stations, hangers, oil storage areas and personnel. Afterwards, this real time intelligence was expanded to make models of the Air Force bases. At the same time, by gathering data from “Jane’s Fighter Planes” I worked with the “Air Tigers” unit to make models of Air Force fighter planes and helicopters.
The final intelligence products were given to the decision makers who planned, prepared and executed surprise camp raids, using highly trained suicide commando units. On the orders of LTTE’s top commanders I trained, in technical intelligence, Tiger suicide cadres (known as the “Black Tigers”) who were targeting Sri Lankan Navy and Air Force.
Between the periods of 1992-95 the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), the foreign intelligence agency of India, was involved in a covert operation within the LTTE, with the goal of eliminating the LTTE supreme leader Veluppillai Pirabhakaran following the assassination of Prime Minister Rajiv Ghandi. RAW was able to infiltrate the LTTE and indoctrinate the deputy LTTE leader to work as a mole. Also, they sent former LTTE cadres in India back to Sri Lanka in order to infiltrate the LTTE with the cover story that they had broken out of prison. It was one of them – named Srinivasan in the “Sea Tigers” unit - who actually approached me and blackmailed me to work for the RAW. Since I had a relationship with a LTTE female cadre, I had violated the disciplinary code of the LTTE. The RAW operative Srinivasan took advantage of that fact and was able to persuade me to work for him.
It took a year for the LTTE’s intelligence to find out about RAW’s operation by following a tip. The internal security division of the LTTE had captured almost all of the cadres who were involved and they were placed in the prison where the LTTE kept captured security forces personnel. Since I was allowed to visit the prison in order to see Commander Ajith Boyagoda - a captured Sri Lankan Navy officer who was providing information to me about the Sri Lanka Navy- I had the opportunity to meet Srinivasan and came to know what was going on. He was hoping that RAW would execute a paramilitary raid on that detention camp to rescue them and he didn’t expose any of his contacts. He asked me to find a way to send a tip to RAW about their arrest. Meanwhile there was an investigation going on in the military intelligence unit of the LTTE about some missing documents. They still didn’t know about my affiliation with RAW.
I was very nervous and I did not know what to do. I thought about committing suicide since I had a cyanide pill with me but I did not want to end my life like that. So I went to confess to the head of LTTE’s military intelligence wing Sasikumar Master about my betrayal. I explained everything I did and begged him to forgive me. He said that he could not make any decision and took me to his superior. Sasikumar Master ordered me to be blindfolded and asked me to get into his SUV. He took me to a secret base where Thinesh Master-LTTE leader Pirabhakaran’s military adviser in charge of the Military office (MO) - was stationed. Thinesh Master listened to everything I had to say carefully and asked Sasikumar Master to leave. Then he showed me the place where I would stay until he made his decision.
The next morning he came to the room where I was staying and told me not to worry too much about it. He informed me that I must be prepared to take whatever punishment he chose. When he returned two days later his bodyguard came to my room and said that Thinesh Master had ordered for me to pack my belongings and change location so I packed up everything I had and went to see him. He took me into his room and said that he didn’t want to punish me like the others and he advised that I go to the Sri Lankan military and surrender. “What do you mean?” I asked.
He told me that he wanted me to spy on the Sri Lankan Government for the LTTE - like Israel’s Wolfgang Lotz in Egypt and Eli Cohen in Syria who were the two eyes of Israel in the 1960s. He also told me the story of Aldrich Ames, a former CIA Counter-intelligence Officer who was convicted of spying for the Soviet Union in 1994. He said that he already spoke to the LTTE leader Pirabhakran.
He explained that the Sri Lankan military and RAW were planning a major military operation to capture the Jaffna peninsula and that the LTTE would not be able to defend it. Therefore, the LTTE had to rethink its strategy to achieve their goal. He told me that I was the right person for the job. He talked to me all day about the strategy. He said I had to infiltrate the Sri Lankan military and become one of their soldiers by giving away all the information I knew. “You are going to be cultivated as a long term inlet operative,” he said. He went on to say that the LTTE would send me a message at the right time and until then I would be a sleeper agent. He said that once I surrendered I should trust no one and deceive everyone. “Give a little, shout a little and laugh a little, but always remember to maintain the control in your hands,” he said. Also, he explained how I would be useful one day if I became a mole. At this meeting Thinesh Master also asked me to sign up to join the “Black Tigers” list - a highly secretive suicide squadron of the LTTE intelligence wing - and I agreed.
As advised I surrendered to Sri Lankan security forces in June 1995. A month after I surrendered to the Sri Lankan military, they launched a massive military operation called “Operation Riviresa” to recapture Jaffna peninsula and they asked me to help them with the information. I closely worked with the Overall Operation Commander (OOC) General Rohan Daluwatte, his Joint Operation Commander (JOC) General Sri Lal Weerasoorya and divisional commanders Brigadier Janaka Perera, Brigadier Neil Dias and Brigadier P.A. Karunathilaka as well as officers from the directorate of military intelligence of Sri Lanka. During this period, the Sri Lankan military intelligence officers known as Brigadier A.R. Zacky and Brigadier A.S.M. Zaheer (now a Major General) introduced me to the Sri Lanka’s national security advisor, at that time, Dr. Rohan Gunaratna. I worked with them from the day I surrendered until my release. I am code-named, by the Directorate of Military Intelligence of Sri Lanka (DMI), as “05”. This is how they address me in all communications, even now.
During the period of 1996-97,I also helped the Sri Lankan armed forces when the LTTE intelligence infiltrated the Jaffna peninsula to undermine the civil administration by identifying and arresting suicide squadron members with their explosive body suits. I and many other captured and surrendered LTTE cadres were used as a “spotters” during this time by the Sri Lankan military intelligence and we had to spot a minimum of five to ten other LTTE cadres every day; if not we would be beaten and tortured in the night. Because of this fear and to avoid torture we were even spotting innocent youth among the civilians. Around 700-1000 innocent Tamil men and women between the ages of 18-30, who did not want to cooperate were arrested, interrogated, tortured and murdered in secret prisons at that time.
In January 1997 following all the successful military operations in Jaffna, I was promised by the then Minister of Defense Anurutha Ratwatta and the Sri Lankan army chief of staff General Rohan Daluwatte that I would be sent to either the USA or the UK to study. But they did not keep their promise just like all the “broken-promises” made by successive Sri Lankan governments for the Tamil grievances. Then they changed their mind and asked me to marry a Sinhalese army officer from the women’s corps. Afterward, I was to go to the Kotelawala Defense Academy in Sri Lanka and join the army or navy as a commissioned officer. But my parents were totally against this idea, especially my father. My father said that one day the army would accuse me of something and might even execute me; he warned me not to fall into that trap and told me to get out of the country with or without the Sri Lankan military’s help.
It was during this time my father contacted his nephew ********** who was working in Labrador, Canada as a physician, to help me. Coincidently, ************ who studied medicine in Moscow had a Sinhalese friend named Dr. Ajantha who had been his classmate in Moscow. Dr. Ajantha later married a Sri Lankan army officer known as Colonel Niroshana Herath, now a Brigadier. So my cousin *********** contacted Col. Herath in Sri Lanka and came to know everything about my situation in the army and requested my early release. Then Col. Herath talked to my handler Brigadier A.R. Zacky about my family background and the possibility of releasing me sooner.
In December 1996 my sister who is married to ********* youngest brother ************** (a computer network administrator and my brother-in-law) and ****************** other brother ************** (who is a business man –owns a couple of Dunkin Donuts in Brossard, Quebec - also my cousin) visited me in Sri Lanka.
Basically all of my relatives, my sister, my brother-in-law, my cousins, all wanted to save me from the military and bring me to Canada. But the cunning Sri Lankan military intelligence expert Brigadier A. R Zacky and his intermediary Dr. Rohan Gunaratna, together with Colonel Niroshana Herath, were exploiting the situation and planning something else for me. They promised my parents and relatives that I would be released within a couple of months and asked my relatives to arrange my voyage to Canada. My parents and my sister were very happy and this happiness appeared to be shared by Col. Herath, who was playing the middleman game with Brig. Zacky and Dr. Gunaratna. I was just watching everybody being happy and although, in my mind I had my own concerns, I didn’t show anybody that I was upset.
In the summer of 1997, Brig. Zacky met me in a safe house in Colombo where Dr. Gunaratna and Col. Herath were also present. They provided me with my passport, identity card and birth certificate and advised me to go to Canada where my relatives live. At this meeting Brig. Zacky told me to never ever forget the “games” we play here and to do everything as we advice. Also, he threatened me by saying, “…Remember that your parents and brothers are living here in Colombo and we also know where your relatives are living in Canada…” and many other threats. He said that Dr. Gunaratna will visit you soon after your refugee case is accepted in Canada and advised me how to prepare the story for the refugee case. He said that I should never mention that I worked for any intelligence but I should mention that I was forced to work for everybody in Sri Lanka and that I cannot return to Sri Lanka because of fear of persecution and political opinion.
In September 1997, I left Sri Lanka and came to Canada as a refugee with the help and advice of Dr. Gunaratna. He recommended to the director of military intelligence of Sri Lanka, Brigadier Zacky at the time, to use me as an operative for them in the long run. When I refused to work for them Dr. Gunaratna sent a letter to the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) saying that I was a former member of Tamil Tigers. Meanwhile since my sister had engaged a travel agent for my voyage to Canada I had to pay the travel agent $25,000. When I came to Canada I was left with no choice but to work in factories instead of going to school. During this period some of my fellow Tamils who live here in Canada and who are ardent supporters of LTTE wrote a few letters to the Canadian immigration office saying that I worked for the LTTE. The immigration department sent an agent from CSIS named **************** to investigate the matter. I was wary in the beginning and didn’t tell her the truth but eventually we became friends and I started co-operating with her in order to get my citizenship.
Unfortunately, a year later, *********** was transferred and another agent from CSIS, ********** came to talk to me about my past. He was almost my age and was very hard on me from the beginning. He never believed a word I said and he had to check on everything I told him. For instance, he would ask where my wife worked and then he would go to my wife’s work place and check on her. He played many silly games with me and eventually I had a falling out with him and told him that I did not want to talk to him anymore. He tried and tried very hard several times but I would not change my mind. It was then I believe that CSIS decided to give me my permanent residence status. Thereafter I worked for a while with a Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) officer named Staff Sergeant *************, who was introduced to me by Dr. Rohan Gunaratna.
I was told that if anybody asks you how you know Dr. Gunaratna tell them that I knew him from my father who worked for Dr. Gunaratna as his translator in Colombo. For the record, when ********* came to investigate me I was afraid and that’s exactly what I told them to protect my family back home. The truth is that my father never met Dr. Gunaratna or ever spoke to him. As expected Dr. Gunaratna sent me a letter in 1999 (which I gave to CSIS) simply saying that “I am coming to Canada on an official visit and I was wondering that if I could meet you in Montreal…” He also attached his business card, which said that he was a research assistant at the Department of International Relations, the St. Andrews University in Scotland.
So I called him and asked him when he would be coming and he said that he would be in Montreal in the summer of 1999. When he came he brought me a big bundle of military and intelligence related books and magazines, some of his books that he wrote on the Sri Lankan conflict and LTTE using the information that I had provided to him when he met me in Sri Lanka.
Before Dr. Gunaratna visited me in 1999, Col. Herath also visited me in Montreal in the winter of 1998. He said he was taking a military course in Arizona for three months, and he just wanted to see how I was doing. He also wanted to meet all of my relatives including my cousins and brother-in-law. On that visit he said it was because of him and Dr. Gunaratna that I had come to Canada and that Brig. Zacky had wanted me to be assassinated in Colombo using some Tamil paramilitary groups that operated with the Sri Lankan army.
The first thing that both Col. Herath and Dr. Gunaratna asked me when they met me was how my refugee case going. Who was the lawyer? How did you write the story (PIF) for the refugee board? They were very interested in everything about my refugee case. The irony is Dr. Gunaratna said that he was in Montreal because he was invited by the Immigration and Refugee board to give a presentation about how to handle illegal immigrant cases in Canada.
Dr. Gunaratna stayed with me in my apartment for four days and explained to me how to be an operative for the State Intelligence Service (SIS), which is an intelligence agency of the Sri Lankan government. It is tasked with both internal and external intelligence. It comes directly under the Ministry of Defense and was formally known as the National Intelligence Bureau (NIB). Dr. Gunaratna explained to me about how to keep a low profile and covert communication with him. He wanted information on several issues. He put me in contact with two other operatives, Mohan Samarashinge and Mahinda Gunasekara; both were from SIS operating in Canada. In return he promised that he would help me to bring one of my brothers to Canada, help me to earn my bachelor’s degree and once I was a permanent resident he would arrange for me to find a legitimate job with the RCMP. These promises were never kept.
In March 2000 my wife and I were invited to a dinner at Mr. Mohan Samarasinghe’s Ottawa residence where I also met Mr. Mahinda Gunasekera and Mr. Ben Gailor, now a Canadian Government Trade Commissioner - Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade attaché at that time – Political Relations and Trade, South Asia Division (PSA), who married a Singhalese woman from Sri Lanka. At that dinner everyone became drunk and talked about the World Tamil Movement (WTM), Federal Association of Canadian Tamils (FACT) and Tamil Rehabilitation Organization (TRO), which are all basically LTTE fronts and their covert operations in Canada. Also, they talked about how to counter them. It was Mr. Mohan Samarasinghe who led the talk and he tried to recruit me to work for him by gathering information on Tamil Diaspora and the activities of the LTTE front organizations in Canada. I had no choice and worked for him until 2002. In 2001, I sent a letter to Dr. Gunaratna saying I no longer wanted to work for them, as I was afraid. Shortly after this, CSIS was notified of my past membership with the LTTE.
In the summer of 2002 CSIS agent ************** told me that Mr. Mohan Samarashinge had been sent back to Sri Lanka but it was in October of 2007 that I learned that he had returned to Canada and was now working as legislative assistant for Deepak Obhrai, Member of Parliament for Calgary East and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Because I had to protect my family back home I was afraid of exposing myself to the Canadian authorities including immigration, refugee board, CSIS and RCMP for twelve long years. On many occasions Brig. Zacky and Dr. Gunaratna threatened me by using my family as a tool of blackmail, which I reported to CSIS agent ************ with actual proof.
Living for so many years with this manipulation, the threats and blackmail, from the beginning of my forced recruitment into the LTTE and continuously working for the LTTE intelligence, Indian external intelligence service - RAW, Sri Lankan military intelligence, the State Intelligence Service (SIS) of Sri Lanka and later, in Canada, the investigations and the association with the CSIS and RCMP, has made me a person suffering with depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, paranoia and later psychosis from which I am on my way to a full recovery according to my doctor. I think the recovery from my mental illness is interconnected with all of my family members including my parents finally fleeing Sri Lanka and arriving safely in Canada. It is because I know they are all here that I am now able to function as a normal human being without any fear and am able to fight on for the rights of my people who are still suffering like me.
In October 2009, I was watching the CBC National News as usual when I learned that a ship carrying 76 Tamils had been captured by a joint RCMP and Canadian Border Service Agency (CBSA) operation in Vancouver. All of the ship’s passengers were seeking asylum. This was not the normal mix of “boat people” because this was a group of Tamil men, all between the ages of 18 and 30. The Tamil rebel movement, Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), have their own fleet of merchant vessels and everybody in Sri Lanka is aware that they are dispersing to Australia, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia and India - mostly their closest neighbours - with the intent to reorganise and rebuild. At first I made the same assumptions as the Sri Lankan government had. To me, it was obvious that they were very possibly LTTE cadres, being Tamils of prime age. Whoever they were, I knew that they were fleeing torture, murder and worse at the hands of the Sri Lankan government.
I had been watching the news and surfing the Internet with escalating apprehension since the LTTE was defeated militarily in May of 2009. It seemed that every week there were more reports of horrifying acts of retribution on the part of the majority Sinhalese of Sri Lanka against the minority Tamils, now easy prey without the LTTE presence. There was even a Western media documentary on execution-style mass killings, of wanton rape and looting of internment camps for Tamils.
One evening, I was startled to see the face of Dr. Gunaratna staring out of my television screen. The Canadian government had hired him as an, ‘expert advisor’ on the migrant ship issue. There was Dr. Gunaratna, declaring with absolute certainty that the 76 Tamils were all LTTE cadres. His argument was that the refugee claimants were a threat to Canadian and Sri Lankan security and should therefore be sent directly back home to be ‘dealt with’ there (CBC News, 2009). The lawyers for the 76 arrivals and David Poopalapillai, the spokesman for the Canadian Tamil Congress (CTC), a non-profit Tamil community organization, were also featured in the news, arguing that it was impossible to make such a sweeping statement, and each refugee claim should be investigated on an individual basis whether the arrivals were LTTE cadres or not.
My gut reaction was immediate and strong; Dr. Gunaratna had no moral right to give advice on this matter. I thought there should be an internal investigation by Canadian authorities and if the men were found to be a threat to the national security of Canada then they should be sent back. But Dr. Gunaratna had been instrumental in sending me - a LTTE intelligence wing cadre - to Canada and then, once I was here, he had blackmailed me to work as an informant for the Sri Lankan government. He had once said to me, ‘When I say jump, you should ask, ‘How high?’ Now he wanted to send these other men back? LTTE cadres were fine in foreign countries, as long as he approved of them first, it seemed.
Since my arrival in Canada, I have willingly worked with Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) and Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) to help identify those who might be importing violence to this land. I believe resolutely in peaceful means to peaceful ends. I was deeply touched that the Canadian government and its agencies had enough faith in me to grant me citizenship despite the fact that I was a former member of a rebel organization. I have done whatever I could to be worthy of that trust. I am trying to live my life as a decent citizen; I am a family man with young children who inspire me to become a better person.
I had hoped that once the LTTE was obliterated, the Sri Lankan government would look for a political solution to the internecine conflict. This was promised to me by most of the military and Sri Lankan government officials. The merciful victor was not a concept that seemed to be well understood by the Sinhalese. The Sinhalese majority has no intention of offering a permanent political solution to this dwindling fly in their ointment. This government insists that no Tamil problem exists and they simply ignore the plight of Tamils. Helpless and full of guilt, I watched as my people were being marginalized and oppressed.
I feel indignant and ashamed at the image that has been portrayed of Tamils in the media. Tamil Canadians have been painted with the broad strokes of propaganda, effectively seeded in high places by strategically positioned Sinhalese agents (Ministry of Defence, 2012). Tamil teenagers and adults alike are suspected of being gangsters that engage in violence. I am determined to do all I can to change the image that Canada has of the Tamil people and because of this, I was nervous at the thought that some of the men who had arrived might be coming to regroup, reinforce and re-emerge as a stronger military force – to use Canada as a training and recruiting ground for maintaining hatred and bloodshed.
I felt sad that these men had fled Sri Lanka and travelled thousands of miles to reach Canada, so how could anyone justify sending them back to a country where they would certainly be tortured and murdered. I myself had been an LTTE cadre and, as so many like me had been forcibly recruited – don’t they deserve the possibility of a second chance for their lives as well. On the other hand, if they were coming to Canada in order to recruit more members to continue a violent struggle, I did not want this on my conscience. There are many young Tamils in Canada who were sent from Sri Lanka in order to save them from forcible recruitment or assassination. In Canada they struggle with their identity. They often live with an aunt and uncle, have little or no guidance and could be easily influenced and inspired by macho LTTE cadres who are seen as heroes, but who indoctrinate them to violent Tamil nationalism.
I found the e-mail addresses of the head office of CTC and of CBC National News and sent them all a summary of my story and a statement explaining why Dr. Gunaratna should not be allowed to work for the Canadian government. In the message to the CTC, I said that I wanted to speak with their lawyer. I felt, by doing this, I might prevent my Tamil brethren from being sent back to Sri Lanka.
David Poopalapillai called the next day. He said, ‘If you want to help your people, we will help you to do so’, and gave me a name and the phone number of a fellow from the CTC Montreal branch. David told me that they wanted me to come to Toronto right away that evening and that I would see the lawyer the next morning. He told me to bring all the evidence I had, so I did, shoving books, letters, e-mails, my medal from Dr. Gunaratnas’s institute – the whole lot - into a big suitcase to bring with me. Volunteers from CTC Montreal drove me to Kingston where David came to pick me up and from there we drove to Toronto. I let my whole story pour out of me during the drive to Toronto – my throat became sore from talking. Canadian Tamils had never heard of Dr. Gunaratna until he had shown up on the CBC that first time and now he was in the news constantly. I showed David the books that Dr. Gunaratna had written from the information I had provided him and explained exactly who he was. We spoke all through the night until about 6 am and we went to see the lawyer that same morning.
The purpose of our case was to show that Dr. Gunaratna was not a credible witness. He is a Sri Lankan government operative and is ethically compromised and on top of that he is biased against Tamils. In my opinion, he is an information speculator, masquerading as an analyst. I told the lawyers that asking Dr. Gunaratna to identify a Tamil is equivalent to asking Hitler to identify a Jew.
I was told that Barbara Jackman of Jackman and Associates is one of the best lawyers in Toronto. Her offices are bare - meant for work, not for show. She and her associate, Hadayt Nazami, and several assistants went straight to work on the case. I gave Barbara the password for my email account and she went into my files to read them. I had all the e-mail correspondence with the Sri Lankan officials since summer 2000 – almost 400 e-mails were printed out.
We wrote an affidavit that was used with the rest of this information in the lawyers’ cross-examination of Dr. Gunaratna. It seems that he admitted to most of the major points that were brought against him, and was consequently demoted from an expert witness to someone able to present factual evidence, but there is a publicity ban on the 106-page report from the cross-examination. Until it is lifted, I will not know exactly what was said during the proceedings.
The CBSA contacted my lawyer, saying that they wished to speak to Kagusthan Ariaratnam. They wanted me to identify the 76 men who were still incarcerated in Vancouver. I did not want to antagonise the Canadian authorities, nor did I want to obstruct justice, but I had made my mind up never again to work with Dr. Gunaratna, so I said that I would only work with them if he were completely off the case. They did not contact me again.
In January 2010, all 76 migrants were ordered released by a judge from the Immigration and Refugee Board since the Canadian agencies could not find any evidence against them or links to the rebels. I was relieved that they were not sent back to Sri Lanka to their possible deaths. I believe that each one of them is now undergoing an individual investigation into his eligibility to remain in Canada. The result of the Canadian government’s actions toward these boat people, in my perception, has been a waste of money, given immigrants a negative first impression of the host country, antagonized and alienated the Diaspora residents already integrated into the host society and sown suspicion amongst the various minorities living together within the countries’ boundaries. The tactic of being unwelcoming to refugee claimants in an effort to slow down immigration not only does not work; it fosters animosity and resentment in the hearts of these refugees, most of whom will become citizens eventually. This seems to me a recipe for trouble and dissention rather than for peaceful coexistence.
By giving my testimony through the affidavit I was able to have Dr. Gunaratna removed as an expert adviser from the Tamil migrants’ investigation. It is clearly evident that one person can make a difference. I also learned that through my actions I could achieve inner peace. Having been instrumental in the fall of the Tamil-held Jaffna peninsula to the hands of the Sri Lankan government in 1995 I felt that I had betrayed the Tamil people, but when I submitted my affidavit against Dr. Gunaratna I felt that I had somehow made it up to my people at last.
Following my testimony Dr. Gunaratna made direct allegations against CTC in a Sri Lankan newspaper stating, “The LTTE is operating under the name of the Canadian Tamil Congress…and Canadian Government is aware of this and is currently investigating.” As these comments were completely false and profoundly defamatory, CTC decided to take legal action in Canadian courts against Gunaratna. On January 2014, a judge found Gunaratna liable and fined him $75,000 in CTC’s favor, the judge stated, “The statements were clearly defamatory, either directly or by innuendo, because they imply CTC is involved in commission of violence and illegal activity. It is unequivocal and uncontroverted that these statements were, in fact, false and untrue.” Soon after the CTC won the defamatory case against Dr. Gunaratna, the Sri Lankan government subsequently designated the CTC as a terrorist entity under the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1373, however it is important to note that the Canadian government flatly denied this statement by the Sri Lankan government and claimed that CTC is part of our civil society and mere legal entity.
This is Oppilan's blog: http://theltteinsider.blogspot.ca/
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