Customs under pressure to release seized separatist propaganda material

Sri Lanka Customs officials have seized a container load of LTTE propaganda material which arrived at the Colombo Port on Friday. According to Customs sources, the said container had been declared as ‘stationery’ and the consignee, one S. Jeganatha, of the Peace Committee, Vavuniya.

Upon examination, it was found that the 42 cases in the container were full of LTTE propaganda material, promoting separatism including LTTE flags, key tags with Prabhakaran’s picture, LTTE magazines and stickers depicting a separate Tamil state which extends to Negombo on the west and to the east.

Source say the Customs officials have been advised by a high ranking government official to release the container on the grounds that the LTTE is no longer a proscribed organisation. Customs officials had countered that although the LTTE has been deproscribed, promoting separatism is still illegal according to the 6th Amendment to the Constitution. They had pointed out that most of the material seized explicitly contradicts this constitutional clause.

Although such material is often distributed by the LTTE among its sympathisers, this is the first time that the LTTE has attempted to bring in propaganda material through legal channels. The Sunday Island reliably understands that pressure is being brought upon the Customs Department to release the container.