June 18, 2008 / 11:24 PM / 11 years ago

Canada Tamil group to appeal terrorist designation

TORONTO (Reuters) - The Toronto-based World Tamil Movement said on Wednesday that it plans to appeal a recent decision by the Canadian government to make the group the first non-profit placed on a list of terrorist organizations.

The organization said it was shocked by the federal government’s announcement this week. The designation freezes the group’s financial assets and makes it illegal for others to assist its activities.

The World Tamil Movement said it is vacating its offices, its board is suspending operations, and various volunteer-run programs and services have been halted.

“Effective immediately, all services will cease and the library will be closed to the public,” the WTM said in a statement.

On Monday, the Canadian government added the group to its list of terrorist groups, describing it as a front organization that sent “significant” funds to Sri Lanka for the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, known as the Tamil Tigers. The rebel group has waged a violent campaign for decades against the Sri Lankan government in order to create a separate Tamil state in the South Asian island nation.

Canadian financial institutions were directed to review their records and immediately report transactions made by World Tamil Movement to federal police.

The WTM, created in 1986, said it is “resolved to fight its inclusion on the list of terrorist entities, which it views as an attack on the fundamental freedoms of expression and association enshrined in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”

The group will first appeal to Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day to reconsider the group’s classification, and if Day does not respond then it plans to launch an appeal in federal court.

No criminal charges have been filed against the World Tamil Movement, nor any of its officers or directors, said Adriel Weaver, one of the group’s lawyers.

In a press release on Monday, the Canadian government said the WTM canvassed Tamil populations in Canada, demanding large donations on behalf of the Tamil Tigers and threatening or intimidating those who refused.

An estimated 200,000 Tamil Canadians live in or near Toronto, the WTM said.

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