Showing posts with label Sri Lankan Tamils. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sri Lankan Tamils. Show all posts

Friday, December 31, 2010

Jaffna sees millions of Sinhala visitors in addition to the Army but no real peace

Minister Devananda with a family member of slain Zonal Education Director Manikkam Sivalingam
(January 01, 2011) A senior official of Sri Lanka Army said recently to Sinhala daily The Divaina that 2.8 million people from southern parts of the island visited Jaffna before the final days of the year..

With the expected 200,000 year end holiday travelers, the official anticipated the total number of visitors that visited Jaffna in 2010 exceeded three million.

2010 set on Jaffna with same terrifying stories the cultural heartland of Lankan Tamils heard since years before the 'end of war.'

Jaffna sees millions of Sinhala visitors in addition to the Army but no real peace.

Walikamam Zonal Director of Education was brutally killed last week, perhaps to take revenge for opposing singing national anthem of his country in Sinhala at the National Safety Day commemoration on December 26 under a new directive of the cabinet that dropped the almost half a century practice of singing the national anthem in Tamil too.

A 26 year old businessman who went missing since December 27 was found stabbed and killed on the same day whilst anonymous caller sought a staggering eight million rupee ransom from the father of the youth.

Killings continue in strictly guarded Jaffna under the nose of the security forces. More Sinhalese will go there to enjoy their peace dividend of a pilgrimage to Nagadeepa, a place Buddhists believe Lord Buddha had visited.

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Saturday, June 05, 2010

Lankan war was corporate one, says Arundhati Roy

(June 05, 2010, Colombo - Lanka PolityThe war in Sri Lanka was not just a war of the Sri Lankans against the Tamil people, according to writer-activist Arundhati Roy. "That was a corporate war. All the large Indian companies are now heading to Sri Lanka to make more money," Roy said on Friday. "The political parties of Tamil Nadu were the only ones who could have stopped the genocide in Sri Lanka, but they chose to stand by silently. A similar thing is happening in central India where tribals are resisting the takeover of natural resources by corporates."

Roy was speaking at a Convention on Operation Green Hunt and Genocidal attack on tribals by Indian State' organised in the city on Friday by the Federation Against Internal Repression. She said the resistance in central India was a fight against injustice and not a rebellion against the state as the government says it is. "The government is on the side of the corporates who want to take over the lands, forests, rivers, the traditional homes of the tribals. Operation Green Hunt follows the Bush doctrine of you are with us, or against us," she said. "Anyone who resists this corporate takeover, whether Gandhian, tribal or Maoist, is branded a terrorist," she said.

Turning her attention to the environmental impact of development, she said there was no ecological way to mine bauxite. "You can never mine bauxite and then turn it into aluminium without destroying the ecological balance of the mountains. The tribals have lived in harmony with the forests and nature for centuries," she said.

For over five years, some of the poorest, most marginalised people in the country have held off some of the world's largest multi-national corporations, she said, referring to tribals and adivasis across the country. "Every institution in this country has been corrupted but the spirit of our people remains strong," she said.

The people's struggles were not against democracy but the ways in which the mechanisms of democracy function. "You're a Gandhian if you protest on the road, and a Maoist if you resist in the forest. How can someone without food go on a hunger strike? To do Gandhian resistance, you need an audience, and there is no audience in the forest," she said.

-Times of India

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

International Crisis Group on Sri Lankan issue

(February 24, Colombo - Lanka Polity)  Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora groups should move away, once and for all, from the failed agenda of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and instead put their energies into the quest for a sustainable and just peace in a united Sri Lank, says International Crisis Group, a think tank studying the conflicts in the world.

Following is the full text of their report:

The Sri Lankan Tamil Diaspora after the LTTE,* the latest report from the International Crisis Group, examines political dynamics within the Tamil diaspora since May 2009, as Tamils abroad adapt to the LTTE’s defeat. It also looks at the potential for new forms of militancy within the diaspora, especially among the younger generations, radicalised by the deaths of thousands of Tamil civilians in the final months of the war. While there is little chance of the Tamil Tigers regrouping in the diaspora, most Tamils abroad remain profoundly committed to a separate state of Tamil Eelam in Sri Lanka.

“New diaspora initiatives attempt to carry forward the struggle for an independent state in more transparent and democratic ways, but they must repudiate the LTTE’s violent methods”, says Robert Templer, Crisis Group’s Asia Program Director. “And they must also recognise that the LTTE’s separatist agenda is out of step with the wishes and needs of Tamils in Sri Lanka”.

The gap between the diaspora and Tamils in Sri Lanka has widened. Most in the country are exhausted by decades of war and are more concerned with rebuilding their lives under difficult circumstances than in continuing the fight for an independent state. Without the LTTE to enforce a common political line, Tamil leaders in Sri Lanka are proposing substantial reforms within a united Sri Lanka. While Tamils have the democratic right to espouse separatism non-violently, Tamil Eelam has virtually no domestic or international backing. With the Sri Lankan government assuming Tamils abroad remain committed to violent means, the diaspora’s continued calls for a separate state feed the fears of the Rajapaksa administration and provid e excuses for maintaining destructive anti-terrorism and emergency laws.

The Sri Lankan government must address the legitimate grievances at the root of the conflict: the political marginalisation and physical insecurity of most Tamils in Sri Lanka. The international community needs to press Colombo much more strongly for political and constitutional reforms. Donors should insist that money given to redevelop the north and east is tied closely to the demilitarisation and democratisation of the region. This should include giving Tamils and Muslims a meaningful role in determining the future of the areas where they have long been the majority. Donor governments and the United Nations must also insist on an independent investigation into the thousands of Tamil civilians killed in the final months of 20fighting in 2009.

“Tamils in Sri Lanka currently have little appetite for a return to armed struggle”, says Robert Templer. “But should the Sri Lankan state continue to fail to respond to their collective aspirations, some may eventually seek a solution through violence and could find willing partners in the diaspora”.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Tamil IDPs of Sri Lanka to 'miss' the general election too

(February 16 Colombo - Lanka Polity)  Over 100,000 Tamil IDPs of Sri Lanka will have to languish in refuge camps until the end of general elections scheduled for April 08. 

The IDPs were not given fair opportunity to exercise their franchise at the presidential held on January 26, monitors say. The turn out was extremely low due to discouraging technical problems. The same can be expected on April 08 as well. 

The government missed the self-imposed deadline to resettle all the IDPs by the end of January. The Minister in charge of resettlement Rishad Badurdeen says that the IDPs will be resettled by April, probably after the polls. The reason cited for the delay is the incompletion of de-mining. 

By February 05, 106,000 IDPs were still in camps according to UN reports. Government has resettled 160,000 IDPs. Around 30,000 IDPs live in friends' and relatives' houses outside the IDP camps. 

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

The need of unity of Tamil speaking communities of Sri Lanka

(February 03, Colombo - Lanka PolitySri Lanka's major Tamil constituent Tamil National Alliance is in talks with the major Muslim constituent Sri Lanka Muslim Congress to form an electoral alliance. If the talks will succeed, the alliance will be able to achieve a resounding mandate from the people of the Northern and Eastern Provinces of Sri Lanka at the upcoming general election. 

But, an extensive dialogue is needed to set forth a declaration of common aspirations of these two minority communities. For that, the coalition is needed to be one that exceeds the limits of mere electoral alliance. 

Sri Lankan Tamils and Muslims share same language although they are culturally different. The Tamil struggle for equality in state was for a Tamil speaking polity in its early stages. However, the sentiments of a narrower Tamil nationalism among the Sri Lankan Tamils, the majority among the minority communities, led the other minorities like Muslims and Upcountry (Indian origin) Tamils to deviate from the Tamil struggle. 

Later, the Muslim and Upcountry Tamil communities developed identical polities and they have their own aspirations now. But unity among the minorities is a must to struggle for more opportunities in the political, economical and social spaces in this island vis-a-vis rising ethnic chauvinism of the sectors of Sinhala polity that are in power.  

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Sri Lanka ruling coalition likely to resort to racism as the minority community leaders express support to opposition presidential candidate

(January 09, Colombo - Lanka Polity) “Sri Lanka ruling party is likely to resort to Sinhala racism or ethnic chauvinism in the days ahead up to January 26 presidential since major elements of the ethnic minorities of the island nation are bent to express support to the opposition candidate Sarath Fonseka.

Sivageetha Prabakaran, the lady Mayor of Eastern Province Batticaloa Municipal Council has expressed her support to Fonseka breaking away from the ruling alliance while Minister Segu Isadeen, a Muslim leader of the ruling coalition also did the same on the same day.

Ms. Prabakaran was elected the Mayor via Tamil People's Liberation Tigers (TMVP) ticket in the local government elections held immediately after the state forces wiped out the Tamil Tiger rebels from the Eastern Province.

Rumours are spreading that her former colleague, Eastern Provincial Council Chief Minister Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan alias Pillaiyan, an ex-rebel, is also likely to express support to Fonseka's candidature. No wonder if former Deputy of the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE) Vinayagamurthi Muralitharan alias Karuna Amman, a Minister of National Integration will also cross over to the opposition in this context..

Two political leaders of the Upcountry Tamils recently expressed support to Fonseka and rumors are spreading that Ceylon Workers' Congress (CWC) leader and powerful Minister Arumugam Thondaman will also express support to Fonseka before January 26.

The major Muslim party Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) is supporting the opposition candidate from the beginning.Ruling Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) Muslim leader Minister A.H.M. Fowzie is also slated to express support to the opposition candidate Sarath Fonseka.

There is a long list of names of the Ministers that are to express support to Fonseka and it appears that the opposition campaign managers are using these 'resources' thriftily.

In this backdrop, the campaign managers of President Mahinda Rajapaksa have already turned to brand Fonseka as a traitor who is backed by the remnants of the LTTE despite the claims that Rajapaksa led the forces to wipe out the rebels outright. The major evidence cited is the backing of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Fonseka is receiving. TNA was considered a proxy of the LTTE when the latter was powerful. In any case, the TNA is still strong among Tamil people and Rajapaksa also discussed with them to win their support before it discovered the TNA was the same LTTE, as a Minister stated on Friday.

Analysts point out that Rajapaksa regime will resort to racism and ethnic chauvinism as they have decided to lay all their eggs in the basket of Sinhala vote base. Sinhala polity is also divided since opposition presidential candidate Sarath Fonseka is also an arch-Sinhala nationalist who in September 2008 said to Canadian National Post "I strongly believe that this country belongs to the Sinhalese but there are minority communities and we treat them like our people...We being the majority of the country, 75%, we will never give in and we have the right to protect this country...We are also a strong nation ... They can live in this country with us. But they must not try to, under the pretext of being a minority, demand undue thing."

Fonseka, the ex-Army Chief led the state forces to an outright win over the Tamil Tigers and he claims for equal credits with Rajapaksa for the war victory.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Sri Lankan Tamils Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

(January 05, Colombo - Lanka Polity) The decision of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) to support opposition candidate Sarath Fonseka at the January 26 presidential is a crucial victory for the opposition and the TNA move has potentials to make impact on the voters of the other minority communities as well.

In 2005, United National Party (UNP) candidate Ranil Wickramasinghe lost the presidential to the current President Mahinda Rajapaksa since he was deprived of the Tamil votes by the election boycott of the then powerful Tamil Tiger rebels.

Sinhala polity is divided with the candidature of the ex-Army chief Sarath Fonseka and Rajapaksa can claim for the arch-chauvinist Sinhala votes and his campaign will be more Sinhala-centered in the days following the TNA decision.
Already the Upcountry Tamil party Ceylon Workers' Congress is divided and the government is receiving half-heated support from major political parties of the Upcountry Tamils. UNP bagged 128,289 votes at the Central Provincial Council election last year while the ruling coalition was able to achieve only 146,418 despite all its war successes and the state-sponsored propaganda. UNP also won the Nuwaraeliya-Maskeliya electorate that is the heart of the plantations. The decision of the TNA can have a great impact on the Upcountry Tamil polity. The same happened in the 2005 presidential and the turnout in the plantations was also low.
Although the leaders of several Muslim splinter groups are with the government, the major Muslim party Sri Lanka Muslim Congress supports opposition candidate Sarath Fonseka.
A number of paramilitary based political groups of Tamil origin support Mahinda Rajapaksa. The Eastern Provincial Council election was held in 2008 just after the province was cleared of Tamil Tiger rebels. The TNA had no opportunity to contest due to the prevalent conditions. Tamil People's Liberation Tigers (TMVP) leader ex-paramilitary cadre Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan swore in as the Chief Minister after the government coalition won the election. Due to the clashes with ex-TMVPer Vinayagamurthi Muralitharan alias Karuna Amman and due to the displeasure caused by the sidelining of the Chief Minister from the development work in the province handled by the President's all powerful brother Basil Rajapaksa, the TMVP is also not offering fullest corporation for Rajapaksa's presidential campaign at the moment.
The major Tamil constituent in the parliament is TNA. It was branded as a proxy of the Tamil Tigers before the latter's defeat. TNA has lost gravity since then but it performed unexpectedly well in the local government elections of Jaffna Municipal Council and Vavuniya Urban Council. They won the Vavuniya Urban Council while they were placed second to the government coalition in Jaffna Municipal Council through a low profile campaign vis-a-vis state-sponsored propaganda of the opponent.  The ruling coalition collapsed to third position in Vavuniya Urban Council.
All these facts lead to the argument that President Mahinda Rajapaksa has poor support from the minority communities of the country. Quite extraordinarily the Tamils have opted to Sarath Fonseka who was equally Sinhala chauvinist and equally instrumental in the brutal repression of the Tamil struggle. Jaffna University Teachers for Human Rights identified the war victory in the terms "For both parties, the key to military dominance lay not in brilliant strategies, but in an utter disregard for the lives of civilians and combatants alike, driven by their leaders’ single-minded pursuit of personal power."
However, the Tamils appear to be tired of the Sinhala chauvinist rule of the Rajapaksa regime and they have expressed their displeasure through choosing Fonseka but with less hopes for a better future.
Senthan Nada, a Toronto spokesperson for the Coalition to Stop the War in Sri Lanka, told Digital Journal in an e-mail on Sunday that Tamils in Sri Lanka are like “Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea” because both candidates were partnered together during the military operations.
“I think The Tamils have to choose between the lesser of the evils. Tamils are considering Sarath Fonseka as a common opposition candidate and lesser evil of the two evils,” he says.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Are Sri Lankan Tamil politicians continuing the same folly?

(October 26, Colombo - Lanka Polity) Sri Lanka's Tamil speaking political parties Tamil National Alliance (TNA), Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC), Democratic People's Liberation Front (DPLF), Ealam People's Revolutionary Liberation Front (EPRLF) - Naba Wing, Democratic Peoples Front and the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) are to meet today to work out a common programme to form an alliance to pressure the government for a political solution for the minority communities.

The alliance is still in its infant age. However, the minority alliance seems to miss the Upcountry Tamils mostly looked down on upon by the elite Tamils due to their Indian origin and the low economic situation. Petit objectives of the minority leaders as well as the personality clashes must not interfere in this alliance formation since the broadest the alliance it is the most strong before the increasingly dominating Sinhala rulers..

On the other hand, the minorities need to open their eyes to see beyond their own nationalist narrow scopes to see how many Sinhalese have fought for the rights of the minority communities in this land. In the recent past, almost all Tamils were in the hands of either the LTTE or the Sri Lanka Government that waged war either for a Tamil Ealam or a Sinhala chauvinist Sri Lanka. The only alternate views were with the leftists and the social activists of Sri Lanka that were firm on their anti-war stand and on the basis of respecting the minority rights. The majority of the left is ethnically Sinhala although it is not worth mentioning for the leftists who prefer to consider them as internationalists.

Sinhala polity is not one single unit of ethnic chauvinists. The voice of the ethno-socialists were suppressed by the government in a brutality matched with that released against the Tamil bationalists. However, still these anti-war activists are active in Sri Lanka. For instance, who are campaigning for the release of Tamil journalist J.N. Tissainayagam who was sentenced for 20 years rigorous imprisonment for abetting terrorism, as he was charged by the state. Many of the brilliant leftist thinkers and social activists underwent severe difficulties in their struggle for peace among national polities stubbornly unyielding to the current of Sinhala ethnic supremacy in the state.

Sri Lanka's oppressed minority polities cannot win their rights through sheer minority nationalism. The effort for uniting the Tamil speaking Muslims into the Tamil speaking polity is a very positive move especially in the aftermath of the LTTE's arrogant anti-Muslim policies. In the context of the long term defeat of militant Tamil Ealamism, the best option the minorities can select is fighting for a Lankan nation that integrates the Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim polities in an honorable state framework together with other minorities. A slogan of building a Lankan socialist state can unite oppressed nationalities as well as the oppressed classes and sexes etc. .

Friday, October 02, 2009

Tamil speaking communities including Muslims uniting in Sri Lanka for minority rights

(October 02, Colombo - Lanka Polity) In an unprecedented move in the recent past of Sri Lanka, the Tamil and Muslim minority communities have initiated a new effort to unite as a Tamil speaking polity. Sri Lankan Tamils, Indian Tamils and Muslims use Tamil as their common language. However, in recent times, the dominant forces of the Tamil liberation struggle ignored the cultural subtleties in relations with Muslims compelling them to suffer and to alienate from their lingual umbilicus. Although Tamil liberation struggle united the diverse Tamil speaking regional communities like Jaffna, Mannar, Vanni and Batticaloa, it failed to integrate the Indian origin Upcountry and Colombo Tamils.

After the military debacle of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE), the Tamil and Muslim political elements in the main stream have initiated a new dialogue with a view to form a common front to fight for minority rights amidst growing Sinhala Buddhist chauvinism in state and the polity of Sri Lanka. 

V.Anandasangaree, the leader, of Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF), Mano Ganesan, M.P.
and leader of Colombo based Democratic People's Front (DPF), Rauff Hakeem, M.P. and leader of Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC), Dr. K. Vigneswaran, the leader of All Island Tamil United Front (AITUF) and R. Sampanthan, M.P and leader of Tamil National Alliance (TNA) that are in the dialogue have been able to issue a joint statement, a progressive move in minority politics in post-LTTE Sri Lanka.

They call for an immediate end to the intolerable conditions faced by the minority communities, in particular Tamils in present Sri Lanka and end to military administration and restrictions placed on civilians urging the restoration of full civilian administration to facilitate return to economic and social normality.

Appealing the IDPs be released immediately to return to their homes and permitted to resume without hindrance their traditional livelihood activities, the statement also urges that immediate arrangements be made to allow the Muslim people who were evicted from the North and have suffered acute hardships for nearly two decades to return to their homes and to resume their economic and social activities without hindrance.

Full statement is as follows:

The Tamil speaking peoples of Sri Lanka have suffered great hardships for many decades since Independence. They have faced discrimination and had to suffer ethnic riots, pogroms and ethnic cleansing; in the pogrom in 1983 sections of the state were involved. In the last thirty four years Sri Lanka was consumed by an ethnic civil war in which the Tamil and Muslim people and others in the North and East and elsewhere were victims. The Tamils in particular bore the brunt of the suffering. During the last stages of the war the people of the Vanni suffered traumatic pain which, despite the conclusive end of the war, has still not abated. While we are deeply concerned about the human rights violations everywhere in our island such as death threats, the killing of civilians, and the disappearance of journalists and others, we feel the need to prioritise in this communiqué such collective and unbearable pain of large numbers of our population as compels immediate intervention.

We the undersigned affirm the following and call for an immediate end to these intolerable conditions, and in particular:

•We state that the forcible detention of hundreds of thousands of Tamil citizens of Sri Lanka in camps for Internally Displaced Persons is illegal, without basis in the Constitution and in gross violation of international human rights norms.

•These people should be released immediately to return to their homes and permitted to resume without hindrance their traditional livelihood activities such as farming and fishing, or to take up residence with friends and relatives, or to exercise their lawful right to abode elsewhere at their discretion. Those likely to face criminal charges should be produced in a court of law without further delay.

•We strongly urge that the camps, for so long as they exist, should be open to relatives, religious functionaries, parliamentarians, provincial councilors, civil society, UN agencies, journalists, and national and international aid and humanitarian organisations.

•We urge that immediate arrangements be made to allow the Muslim people who were evicted from the North and have suffered acute hardships for nearly two decades to return to their homes and to resume their economic and social activities without hindrance.

•Similar arrangements must be made to re-settle in their original homes all those in the East, who remain displaced and continue to suffer greatly.

•The restrictions on movement in and out of the Northern Province and some locations in the East should be lifted and the need for permits to enter or leave should be rescinded forthwith. In particular, any form of quarantine of the Northern Province is a violation of basic rights and should be lifted.

•The curfew and other restrictions on normality in many parts of the Northern Province and elsewhere are unjustified and we demand that normality be returned without delay. People in certain parts of the country live in fear, avoid even essential travel, and are inhibited in employment related and social activities.

•We call for an end to military administration and restrictions placed on civilians, and we urge the restoration of full civilian administration to facilitate return to economic and social normality.

White handkerchief marks protest against forcible cremation by the government of Sri Lanka

Sri Lankan civil society is silently but strongly marking their protest against the government's inhuman  forcible  cremation of a 20-da...