Tamils In Sri Lanka -- by Mathavakrishna(Marty) Gnanananthan


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The June 23 rd Forum at the Activist Centre drew 30 people who listened to presentations from Marty Gnanananthan (Tamil Youth Organisation -- pictured left), Francis Xavier (Tamil community) and Dr Brian Senewiratne (longtime pro-Tamil activist, pictured below right) on the genesis of the situation in Sri lanka and what we could do about it here in Australia.

What way forward

Gnanananthan detailed the long history of the suppression of the Tamil in Sri Lanka since independence in 1948 and bought up the history the dire conditions faced by the popualtion in the north after the war.

France Xavier explored the extent to which the Sr Lankan government had broken all human rights resolutions in its racist war on the Tamil minority.

Brian Senewiratne, after reviewing the scale of the slaughter in Sri lanka and the dire situation now being faced by the Tamil population incarcerated in detention camps, went on to detail what sort of campaign we can mount internationally to support the Tamil population. He called for a boycott Sri Lanka campaign to be mounted across the community and inside the trade union movement that mirrored the sort of approach now being pursued in support of the Palestinian struggle.

Book launched

The forum was also an opportunity to present a new pamphlet on the Tamil struggle which has been written by Socialist Alliance members, Chris Slee and Dr Brian Senewiratne.

Copies of this very useful pamphlet can be purchased for $5 from a Socialist Alliance street stall or from the Activist Centre.

Published in: News & Politics, Travel
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Tamils In Sri Lanka -- by Mathavakrishna(Marty) Gnanananthan

  1. 1. Marty Gnanananthan mathava@gmail.com
  2. 2.  Sri Lanka quick facts  History of Sri Lanka  Present day situation  Humanitarian situation
  3. 3.  South of India  20 million people ◦ 70% Sinhala (Buddhist) ◦ 18% Tamil (Hindu, Christian)  Indian Tamils ◦ 8% Moors (Muslims)  3rd world country  Plantation  Industrialised
  4. 4.  Portuguese and Dutch 16 century  British Colonisation 1815  1948 Independence  1956 Sinhala Only Act  Race riots and Tamil nationalism  Civil War
  5. 5.  Portuguese and Dutch used Sri Lanka as a trading port  Missionaries established particularly in the North and East  3 separate kingdoms (Sinhala, Kandyan and Tamil)  Unified under British Rule ◦ Tamil held top positions in British administration
  6. 6.  Leading up to independence SinhalaBhuddist nationalist movement on the rise  1948 became independent  British handed over a single country to the majority Sinhalese  Citizenship Act – Indian Tamil plantation workers denied citizenship  1956 Sinhala only act ◦ Sinhala official language ◦ Discrimination over university examination ◦ Discrimination over administrative positions  1956 Race riot after Tamils protest legislation (150 dead)  1958 Pogrom against Tamils (300 dead) ◦ Suggestion to change administrative language in the north and east to Tamil
  7. 7.  Successive discriminative laws in 1950’s and 1960’s marginalised Tamils  Frequent protests by Tamils demanding equal rights and equal opportunity  1977 Vaddukoddai resolution (300 dead) ◦ General election on secession, north and east held by Tamil politicians ◦ Riots ensued  1981 burning of Jaffna library by Sinhala mobs aided by police  1983 Black July pogrom - 3000
  8. 8.  1983 war between Tamil Tigers and Sri Lankan Army  Continued for 30 years till 2009  Tamils Tigers fought for a separate state ◦ Tamil Eelam  Mini state has school, courts, banks, vocational facilities  Freedom fighter vs. Terrorist (propaganda war)
  9. 9.  20,000 civilians killed by Sri Lankan Army shelling  Hospitals targeted on 30 different occasions in final months of war  300,000 civilians in concentration camps ◦ No freedom of movement, no communication ◦ Lack of food, water, medicines and sanitary facilities ◦ Abductions of Tamil youth, torture ◦ Forced separation of family members ◦ Indefinite detention
  10. 10.  No press freedom ◦ Press banned from reporting on Sri Lankan war or in refugee camps ◦ 18 journalists killed in last 18 months  Restrictions on Aid organisations ◦ At its peak only Red cross allowed  White vans abduct opposition (mainly Tamils) ◦ 2000 incidents estimated
  11. 11.  Act Now ◦ http://www.act-now.info/Site/HOME.html  Sri Lankan Crisis Fast Unto Action ◦ http://fastuntoaction.wordpress.com/  Amnesty Internationl ◦ http://www.amnesty.org/en/region/sri-lanka