Guest post by MAHENDRAN THIRUVARANGAN
I come from a community that was both a victim and a villain in the thirty-year civil war that unsettled all of us. We were victims because the Sri Lankan state killed thousands of us, grabbed our lands and made us homeless; we were villains as we could not question the LTTE strongly when the movement massacred members of the Sinhala and Muslim communities and members of our own community who refused to conform to the movement’s ideology. We witnessed how the narrow nationalist politics that we romanticized, alienated us from the other communities on the island. We witnessed how our failure to criticize the decisions made by our leaders contributed in part to the death of thousands of Tamils in Mullivaikal in May 2009. We witnessed how our obsession with the particular—our language, our culture, our religion and our homeland—incarcerated us within the walls of purism and political decadence. It is true that there was no space for dissent when the LTTE ruled us. But we need to accept as a community that because the LTTE fought against a state that dominated us and persecuted us, many of us often, in our everyday conversations, justified its violence against other communities. Any community that clings to a narrow-minded nationalism has many a lesson to learn from the painful experiences that the Tamils in Sri Lanka went through during the war. When I read about the recent attacks on Muslims in Aluthgama, I remembered the Eviction of Muslims from the Northern Province by the LTTE and the violence that the LTTE directed at the Muslim community in the East in the name of Tamils. Continue reading Aluthgama – Thinking about Co-existence and Resistance in a Time of Crisis: Mahendran Thiruvarangan
This appeal was published in groundviews.org and has been sent to us by V. Geetha. We are publishing it here to give a different view from the kind of view that dominates now. Even though the appeal was made before the voting took place in the UN Human Rights Council, it is nevertheless an important view.
This appeal, signed by civil society activists who live and work in the North and East of Sri Lanka, seeks to state our position with regard to the resolution on Sri Lanka to be tabled at the 22nd sessions of the UN Human Rights Council. We understand that the resolution will seek to provide more time to the Government of Sri Lanka to implement the recommendations contained in the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission and that it will fall short of calling for an international independent investigation to hold to account those responsible for the Crime of Genocide, War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity. If this resolution would contain only the above and no further, in our opinion, it would be truly unfortunate. Read the full statement here.
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
Statement by COALITION OF MUSLIMS AND TAMILS FOR PEACE AND COEXISTENCE
The coalition of Muslims and Tamils is a Sri Lanka based organization-comprising Muslim and Tamil identified persons who as a general principle are committed to pluralism and social justice in all its forms. Specifically, we are committed to the peaceful coexistence of Muslims and Tamils in the country, particularly in the north and east, and to a just and equitable solution to the ethnic conflict.
We can be contacted at: email@example.com
We have changed our blog site and the new address will be up soon!
Old blogsite: http://www.ctmpc.blogspot.com/
Two Years On: No War but no peace for women still facing the consequences of the war
Women in the north and the east of Sri Lanka have undergone severe hardships during the war, including the loss of loved ones, family’s support structures, livelihoods, houses and also a loss of life and dignity. While there have been numerous changes announced by the Government the situation for women on ground, however, has continued to be challenging. It is sad since the end of the brutal war women’s lives have not seen a dramatic transformation over the last two years and they have continued to face the basic challenges of safety, shelter and basic facilities. It in this light that we wish to put forward a few issues that these women have been facing within the broader context of life in the north and east for the communities living there. We have chosen to highlight these issues because of their gravity, the State’s involvement in the same and the inability of women to seek justice in such cases owing to the lack of an effective civilian administration, security threats and the lack of a concrete remedy within the local legal system. While we write of the issues relating to women, they raise broader concerns impacting the families and communities. The incidents and the report cover only the Northern and Eastern Province of Sri Lanka. Continue reading Two Years On: No War but No Peace for Women still facing the Consequences of the War – CMTPC
I am posting the Editorial of the latest issue of dissenting dialogues, a social justice magazine on Sri Lanka. The lengthy Editorial discusses the situation two years after the war and the much debated UN Panel Report on accountability for crimes committed towards the end of the war in Sri Lanka.
The May 2011 Issue also has an interesting article by Kanishka Goonewardena on the political economy of World Cup cricket titled, Space, time and cricket: from M.C.C to M-C-M’. The article engages the work of C.L.R. James, David Harvey and Giovanni Arrighi while discussing the shift of cricket (and) capital to India.
The entire Issue No 3, May 2011 of dissenting dialogues can be downloaded as a pdf file from the Sri Lanka Democracy Forum website.
Continue reading Two years after the war: justice, reconciliation and the UN Panel Report
guest post by ROHINI HENSMAN
With the military defeat of the LTTE imminent, the terrible plight of civilians in the Vanni has attracted worldwide concern and sympathy, and rightly so. While the circumstances are completely different, the civilian death toll in the Vanni over the past few months (over 2700) is already triple the number of civilians killed in the Gaza massacre of December-January, and is still mounting. The thousands who suffer serious injuries are further victimised by the delay or lack of medical attention, which means, for example, that injuries to limbs which could have been saved with prompt treatment, instead result in gangrene and amputations. Even those who have not lost lives, limbs or loved ones, have lost their homes and livelihoods, and live in appalling conditions which could well claim more lives through disease or even starvation.
Meanwhile, the LTTE and Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL) trade charges, each accusing the other of being responsible for the slaughter. What truth is there in their respective allegations? Continue reading Who Is Responsible For The Slaughter Of Civilians In The Vanni?: Rohini Hensman
[I am posting below an article by Sadanand Menon on Lanka’s Tamils and recent political developments in India. Sadanand Menon’s solidarity for Lankan Tamils also reflects the principled and committed journalism that is so much need for and on Lanka. The suffering of people living in the Vanni in northern Sri Lanka is of utmost concern at the moment. Their humanitarian needs have to be met and that requires international concern and support. However, just as the Norwegian Peace Process silenced the politics and presence of the Muslims and Up-Country Tamils (Tamils of Indian Origin) in the interest of simplifying the problem in Sri Lanka as one between Sinhalese and Tamils, the current wave of concern in Tamil Nadu at a time of war should not further entrench the ethnicisation of the conflict. Solidarity from India should be for all the oppressed peoples of Lanka, and should not become an opportunistic game for Tamil chauvinism. This is where conflating the Tamils with the LTTE (the self proclaimed sole-representatives of the Tamils) continues to have a disastrous impact. The ruling regime in Sri Lanka has given Sinhala Buddhist nationalism centre stage and marginalized the political process to address the grievances and aspirations of all the minority communities (Lankan Tamils, Muslims and Up-Country Tamils). As Sadanand Menon says support for a “genuinely democratic political process”, should be the basis for solidarity. – Ahilan Kadirgamar]
Sadanand Menon: Who speaks on behalf of Lanka’s Tamils?
The LTTE, by all accounts, seems to have been lassoed. The dreaded militant outfit fighting for an independent Tamil state within Sri Lanka, is said to be engaged in a last ditch battle from its encircled base in the Vanni region in Jaffna. The Lankan army claims to be a couple of kilometres short of the LTTE’s administrative headquarters in Kilinochchi. Continue reading Sadanand Menon: Who speaks on behalf of Lanka’s Tamils?