Tamil diaspora unites to surmount challenges

July 23, 2009

suren surendiran–Suren Surendiran is a senior member of the British Tamils Forum. The opinions expressed are his own.–

“Colombo should make public its lists of the interned and allow the Red Cross access to all places of detention and all aspects of the “screening” process conducted by the military and intelligence agencies.

The international community has a clear role to play in convincing the Sri Lankan government to take these steps.” – Robert Templer, Asia program Director, International Crisis Group, 21 July 2009 In a damming article in the International Herald Tribune, Robert Templer of the International Crisis Group, called for the Tamil doctors who remain detained, having renounced the statements they made during the final stages of the conflict, to be released stating “This farce should end: They should be freed”.

As the Government of Sri Lanka continues to imprison over 300,000 Tamil civilians in barbed-wire camps, with limited access for aid agencies and international media, the international community seems content with the military ‘guided tours’ of these camps orchestrated for the benefit of foreign diplomats and allow the Sri Lankan Ministry of Defence to boast claims that “the welfare centres were the best in the world”.

Despite the Sri Lankan government’s rigorous crackdown on voices of dissent and efforts to restrict independent reports, the few that have emerged signal a very different image of what lies behind the barbed wire. There are credible reports from The Times UK that the Sri Lankan authorities are building permanent structures within the camps suggesting long term settlement, despite “promises” to resettle 80 per cent of the detainees by the end of the year. Aid agencies have been reluctant to be outspoken of the conditions in the camps in fear that their limited assistance to the detainees could be jeopardized.

It is however astonishing to see that the vast number of warnings by humanitarian agencies have gone largely unnoticed, with the international community hailing to Sri Lankan government’s calls for financial assistance by way of IMF loan to aid the development of a ‘liberated’ country.

What has become evidently clear is the lack of political will from the Sri Lankan regime to address the political aspirations of the Tamil people for the first 30 years since independence that fuelled a further 30 years of armed conflict. While the international community was clear in its support for a “military defeat” as a means to achieve sustainable peace, they failed to ensure the Rajapakse regime would safeguard even their basic rights to freedom, security and respect.

The conceptual launch on Thursday of the Global Tamil Forum comes at a time when the Tamil Diaspora is no longer ready to mourn the sufferings of their brethren, nor wait for world justice to prevail. The symbolic announcement made by a unified body of Diaspora organisations marks a nation set to embark as a formidable force for their voiceless brethren in Sri Lanka, with a vision to “oppose the entire edifice of oppression and discrimination through peaceful means and to champion the rights of Tamil and other communities who have been unjustly deprived of their rights and silenced”.

Today poignantly marks the 26th anniversary of the 1983 riot in Sri Lanka, when state sponsored anti-Tamil pogroms resulted in over 3,000 dead and over 150,000 internally displaced. Tamils all over the world recall that since independence, history has only repeated itself, with Tamils being the victims to successive Sinhala regimes intoxicated on hegemony.

The Tamil Diaspora has long voiced the cries from the homeland and warned of impending tragedy which could not thwart the subsequent loss of unimaginable proportions. The callousness of the Sri Lankan regime supported by a large section of the Sinhala masses has affirmed the Tamil People’s right to self-determination and democratic self rule as a necessity to safeguard survival.

The Tamil Diaspora has united. United to restore sovereignty for Tamils in their homeland and bring the perpetrators of crimes against humanity to justice.

“The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” – Nelson Mandela


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How much Tamil diaspora shouts there way for tamil homeland in Sri Lanka, we Sri Lankans will never allow separate homelands based ethnicity. Sri Lanka belongs to all Sri Lankans not to any community either majority or minority. Why are these tamils diaspora enjoying the western country benefits and fighting for there rights. Its better for all those tamil diaspora settle down in India and fight for Tamil Nadu as the separate country for the well being. Tamils will never get a separate homeland or separate state as we Sri Lankans will never bow down to those demands and do the unmost to destroy the homeland concept which is now all history with demolish of LTTE militarily and will not allow to riase their cause in the future

Posted by F Jurangpathy | Report as abusive

This supporter of Tamil Tiger terrorism hasn’t changed, and still is still harping on about “aspirations” as if it it is only they who have aspirations. The difference is that the others did not try to falsify history to demand them.
What happens in Sri Lanka is the business of those who live there, and not those who aspire for free real estate from abroad.

Posted by Ram2009 | Report as abusive

There needs to be a balance. Tamils, just put aside LTTE and the war for one moment, have been historically discriminated by the majority Sinhalese. In 1983 the then President Mr J R Jayawardena (a sinhalese) said “I don’t care about them (Tamils) or what they think. As long as I starve them out, the peopple of the South (Sinhalese) will be happy”. It is time for the Govt of Sri Lanka to prove otherwise. Claiming that the defeat of LTTE will resolve the problem and that all citizens of Sri Lanka are the same is just absurd. Letting the Tamils in the camps have full access to humanitarian aid and the rest of the world will be a good start to long road of reconciliation.

Posted by Mayooran | Report as abusive

Any Government which does not treat its minority fairly and equally is not a strong or a good Government.If the minority has a free voice then the rest of the world will not have to speak for them.When a lot of the minority people left the country because of the atrocities done to them and that still continues to their kith and kin,any one asking them to shut up cannot be a human leave alone being rational.The Sinhalese may think any thing but the world will think of them only for what they really are.

Posted by Ilangovan | Report as abusive

[…] Tamil diaspora unites to surmount challenges – By: Suren Surendiran, Reuters […]

Posted by Tamil Insight » The Global Tamil Diaspora has united to form the Global Tamil Forum | Report as abusive

Dear friend,
Your article on this subject are really a very nice piece.
Lot of atrocities were committed to ethnic minorities in Sri Lanka.
As a Humanist,after reading untold minorities sufferings, i used to think ,why so many culture,so many races,so many religions,so many splits for good actions ,homeless,throwing out from their countries for no fault of them-all made me a sick person.
I hope that,here after,India!s neighboring Island citizens will live with good economic standard of living and with dignity.
Thanks to you for fearless writings.

Posted by krishnamurthi ramachandran | Report as abusive

LTTE was a product of riots in 1956/1977/1983. The current situation and treatment of Tamils after the defeat of LTTE by GOSL is worst than those riots. Who knows how many product going to comeout.Wait and see. Time will tell .

Posted by navaratna | Report as abusive