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HRW: Tamil Tigers Extorting Funds From Expatriates


Human Rights Watch says Sri Lanka's Tamil Tigers rebel group uses intimidation and violence to extort money from ethnic Tamils who live abroad, including those living in Canada the United Kingdom and other western countries.

A report issued Wednesday says the representatives of the rebels have been "exporting the terrors of war" to the 800,000 Tamils who live outside Sri Lanka, using threats of violence and intimidation to raise money for operations against the Colombo government.

Human Rights Watch says that in recent months, Tamil Tiger fundraisers have been telling expatriates they must contribute massive amounts of cash to support a "final war."

The report says many Tamils living abroad voluntarily support the rebel group, but others say the "culture of fear" is so strong that they feel they have no choice but to contribute.

The New York-based rights group says some expatriate Tamils have been ordered to mortgage their homes to raise money, or to fast for part of each day and contribute the cost of food they do not consume.

The United States has banned any operations in this country by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, on the grounds the group is a foreign terrorist organization.

Sri Lanka's Tamil rebels began their insurgency in 1983, fighting to establish a separate homeland in the country's north and east. After two decades of conflict that claimed more than 64,000 lives, the two sides formalized a ceasefire four years ago; since December, however, violent clashes have increased sharply.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.
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