DAP MP questions arrest of party members over alleged ties to now-defunct Tamil Tigers

Klang MP Charles Santiago is pictured in Parliament in Kuala Lumpur October 10, 2019. — Picture by Firdaus Latif
Klang MP Charles Santiago is pictured in Parliament in Kuala Lumpur October 10, 2019. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 10 — Klang MP Charles Santiago questioned the arrests of two DAP state lawmakers over their alleged links to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) by the police earlier today.

He said that the LTTE as an organisation is defunct and inactive as all the leaders were killed during the civil war in Sri Lanka many years ago.

“I am actually quite baffled with their arrest, because the LTTE has been defunct for quite a number of years.

“As far as I remember, there is no attempt to revive it at an international level, so I am not sure what is the motivation behind their arrest. It definitely raises a lot of questions because even in Sri Lanka, the network does not exist.

“The international network has been disbanded because all the leaders had been killed many years ago in a civil war,” he told reporters in the Parliament lobby earlier.

Charles, who is also the chairman of Asean Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR), said it is unfair to consider LTTE as a terrorist movement as it was fighting for rights to their land, comparing them to the Palestinian freedom movement which is supported in Malaysia.

“So the conditions where Palestinians find themselves and the Sri Lankans at that time are about the same.

“So the government of Malaysia has to figure out if this is a freedom movement or terrorist movement. They are freedom fighters, freedom fighters means they want sovereignty of the land, autonomy of the land, they want to determine the future of their own people, same like the Palestinians,” he said.

Asked about his party’s stand on the issue, the DAP Selangor vice chairman said his support for the LTTE is personal.

“You have to ask Lim Guan Eng (on the party’s stand). I’m familiar with the arguments and the LTTE struggle and Palestine, I mean I protested with them that time with late Yaseer Arafat, he was in New York and I went to see him.

“I think that struggle is a right struggle. Just because I’m agreeing with you, doesn’t mean I’m carrying a gun in Palestine,” he said.

Earlier today, Penang Deputy Chief Minister P. Ramasamy confirmed the arrest of G. Saminathan, who is also a Melaka state executive councillor, and Negri Sembilan assemblyman P. Gunasekaren, as well as an ethnic Indian non-governmental organisation leader in Perak, by federal police.

“I was informed Saminathan and Gunasekaren were arrested for their alleged links to the group and another person — I don’t know his name — was also arrested,” the DAP leader told Malay Mail when contacted.

Ramasamy believes the arrests are related to the trio’s presence at a “Heroes Day” gathering last year, but could not confirm it.

Ramasamy himself has also been repeatedly linked to the LTTE — seen as a Sri Lankan terror group by some, freedom fighters by others — by his political foes, despite his consistent denials and argument that the group ceased to exist in 2009.

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