A former Canadian Tamil activist who was sentenced after being caught of brokering a $1-million arms deal for LTTE five years ago has written an open letter urging youths not to repeat his mistakes.
Writing from prison in New York, Sathajhan Sarachandran acknowledged for the first time the Tamil youth organization he once ran in Toronto was “part of the LTTE,” National Post reported.
But the 31-year-old software engineer blamed “so-called” leaders of the Tamil community whom he said misled him, fuelled his anger and hatred, promoted violence and silenced advocates of non-violence.
“I only ask that you be vigilant of these people. I ask that none of you choose a path where violence is encouraged. Please don’t be a catalyst for promoting any form of violence or hate,” he wrote in the two-page letter.
The letter encourages the Canadian Tamils to abandon the terrorist LTTE.
“LTTE is no more. We must accept the fact and move on with the reality. I ask that all you brothers and sister to refrain from LTTE ideology,” Sarachandran wrote.
“As Tamils we must reject violence and embrace peace. … I beg you not to get trapped in the extremist ideologies.
“It’s a general letter addressed to the Tamil people of Toronto and he is pleading with Tamil youths not to follow paths that suggest violence and to help the people whom are affected by this war”, said Sarachandran Shunmugan, the letter writer’s father.
Sarachandran was Toronto chapter president of the Tamil Youth Organization from 2003 to 2005. He visited Sri Lanka twice and was photographed at an LTTE camp wielding a machine gun.
In 2006, he was arrested in Long Island, N.Y., while he and two other Canadians were trying to buy shoulder-launched missiles and AK-47 assault rifles for the Tigers. All pleaded guilty to terrorism and conspiracy. Sarachandran was sentenced to 26 years in prison.
Two more Canadians were arrested in Toronto in a related investigation and are awaiting extradition. A sixth goes on trial in November.
“For the past five years, I along with other fellow youths am serving sentences in New York. To add to the suffering, my family has been banned from visiting us under certain sections of the law,” Sarachandran wrote.
“I have not seen my parents for the past three years or any members of my family. I have had no visitor at all for the past three years. I write to you to explain my suffering for the path I had chosen. I regret many of my past activities. Meetings after meetings, campaign after campaign, all injecting hate into me and other fellow students.”
He said the era of violence was over and he hoped the letter would send the right message to youths.
“It’s an undeniable fact: Some of the elements in Canada and outside Canada pushed these people into this present life. I think he is targeting that element,” he said.