Chennai: In a landmark verdict that could have international ramifications, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) on Thursday ordered the Council of European Union to annul the restrictive measures it had ordered in 2006 against the LTTE.
But the Tigers’ assets would remain frozen “temporarily”, according to a statement issued by the court. The ECJ is the highest court in the EU in matters of European Union law.
The court has also ordered the EU council, which lost the case, to pay its own costs and the costs of the LTTE. The court decision holding as inappropriate the present EU restrictions against the Tigers will come to effect after three months.
Also, the court has given the 28-member EU a minimum of two months, extended on account of distance by ten days, to come out with new restrictive measure with regard to the LTTE, if appropriate.
“The ECJ verdict is a milestone achievement for Eezham Tamils in demanding global justice against the Tamil genocide”, said Mr Lathan Suntharalingam, one of the initiators of the legal battle against the EU ban on LTTE.
Tamil activists had filed the case on behalf of the Tigers in April 2011, with some additions coming later. The EU is the defendant, supported by The Netherlands, the UK and the European Commission
“More than 40 countries directly and indirectly abetted the Sri Lankan State in its genocidal onslaught on Eezham Tamils. The US paradigm of ‘War against Terror’ was used to crush the LTTE-defended State of Eezham Tamils”, said Mr Suntharalingam.
There is high expectation among the Sri Lankan Tamils that the EU would not attempt to bring in amended restrictions afresh by making use of the ECJ’s concession that the Union could bring in new restrictive measures, if found appropriate.
ECJ verdict music to Eelam campaigners in TN
The European wing of the LTTE had moved the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in June 2011 for the annulment of the restrictions imposed against it by the EU members.
The Tigers through attorney Victor Koppe of Amsterdam-based law firm Bohler Group, had argued that the LTTE no longer used military means to achieve its goals in the post-Mullivaayakkal context.
It used political and non-violent methods to achieve its goals of obtaining Tamil justice and exercising the right to self-determination of the Tamil people. Koppe argued that these rights are protected by the doctrine of fundamental freedom of speech, association, assembly and movement.
India had banned the LTTE following its brutal assassination of Rajiv Gandhi during election campaign in Tamil Nadu in May 1991. After that, Delhi has been continuously extending the ban—the last one was on May 15 this year.
India maintained that the Tigers, even after the military defeat in May 2009, have not abandoned the concept of ‘Eelam’ and have been clandestinely working towards the ‘Eelam’ cause by undertaking fund-raising and propaganda activities.
They were also trying to regroup, said the external affairs ministry.
While the present ECJ verdict would certainly provide fresh tonic to the pro-Tiger groups in Tamil Nadu to repeat their demand for lifting of the ban on the LTTE, it is unlikely that Delhi and the TN Government would oblige them in a hurry; for, the Tigers killed Rajiv Gandhi on TN soil.
At the same time, human rights activists and the pro-Eelam groups are bound to argue harder that there is no more any militant component to the Eelam campaign after the decimation of the LTTE in May 2009.
Senior Tamil leader P. Nedumaran demanded that Delhi should take the cue from the ECJ verdict and lift the ban on the LTTE.