An Appeal Signed by Tamils on the Eviction of Northern Muslims 21 Years Ago
Since the end of the war in May 2009, it has become important for all ethnic communities of Sri Lanka to re-examine and reevaluate their past. It is through this process of self-reflection that some of the major issues that confront state and civil society today can be meaningfully reconceived and reconfigured for the future.
While the war has drawn to a decisive close, the ethnic conflict is far from over and demands solutions short- and long-term. The quest for a viable political solution from a majoritarian state is a primary concern for the Tamil community today. Continued insecurity in the face of militarisation is an urgent matter. Armed militancy and a political culture of violence have further eroded into the democratic fabric of society. Resettlement and rehabilitation remain unresolved problems. Distribution of land, access to state and social networks, language parity, devolution of power, inter-ethnic reconciliation and the continued presence of gender, class and caste stratifications are a part of the political landscape today.
It is in this regard we raise the question of the eviction of the Northern Muslims 21 years ago. In October 1990, the LTTE evicted roughly 80,000 Muslims from the north in the wake of increasing hostilities and armed conflict in the north and east. The LTTE, which was militarily dominant in the north at that time and controlled large swathes of territory, ordered an entire community to leave the province in two days. In the Jaffna peninsula they were given just two hours’ notice. Subsequent to the eviction, several attempts were made by institutional mechanisms to facilitate the return of the communities to their original lands. During the Ceasefire Agreement (CFA), there were renewed attempts, particularly through the Secretariat for Immediate Humanitarian and Rehabilitation Needs (SIHRN), to negotiate the return of the Muslims with the Sri Lankan state and the LTTE.
In the current political landscape, the eviction of Muslims from the north and their return and resettlement pose a distinct political challenge to civil and political societies of the Tamil community. Continue reading An Appeal to the Tamil Community and its Civil and Political Representatives