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Civilian casualties, IDP camps and asylum seekers December 9, 2010

Posted by southasiamasala in : DeSilva-Ranasinghe, Serge, Future Directions International, Sri Lanka , comments closed

Serge DeSilva-Ranasinghe

Editor’s note: This article was first published in The Sunday Leader and the full article may be viewed at this link.

Father Rohan Silva is a respected senior Catholic priest who has been actively involved in building bridges between the Sinhalese and Tamil communities in Sri Lanka through the Centre for Society and Religion, a Catholic charity which he heads. His work has seen him play a role in assisting Tamil civilians recover from the impact of the civil war. In this context, he told the author earlier in June this year, about the impact of the final months of the war on Tamil civilians who were caught in the crossfire, the conditions in Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps and the factors leading to the flight of asylum seekers from Sri Lanka.

Father Rohan Silva

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Omanthai! Omanthai! Succour for the Tamil thousands August 12, 2010

Posted by southasiamasala in : Roberts, Michael, Sri Lanka , comments closed

Michael Roberts

This article first appeared on transCurrents 11 August 2010.

This article was made possible through interviews with Mrs Annet Royce nee Rajajohn (2 June 2010), T. Thamilalagan (3 June 2010) and Peter Voegtli (1 June 2010). I also interviewed Singham of SEEDS, two expatriate executives in UN agencies and two of the Sewalanka officers in Jaffna, Harsha Navaratne of Sewalanka in Colombo and C. Soloman of the Health Ministry (now in UNICEF).  Supplemented by a memo from Lakshi Abeysekera of Sewalanka at the end.

The citizens of Thāmilīlam who struggled out of the inferno of war in the north-east corner of the northern Vanni during the months of January-May 2009 journeyed on foot or boat. During the first few months the escapee refugees got out mostly in dribs and drabs. But circa 20-23 April, and then again in mid-May during the last stages as the LTTE resistance was smashed, two hordes of “Thāmilīlam people” poured out of the confines of the LTTE corral.

These Thāmilīlam people, or TEP as I shall present them in shorthand, included Tiger fighters in civilian attire as well as other Tiger functionaries. It is probable that all the TEP were in a state of exhaustion. Bombs and bullets in that context do not distinguish between age, gender, class, or military/civilian status.

Attending to the needs of the TEP from the month of January 2009 onwards within the parameters of the government’s insistence on security precautions was a feat of considerable coordination for combination of military and government personnel, foreign and local INGO personnel, local NGO functionaries, hired local staff and volunteers assembled for the purpose. My focus here will be restricted to the large body of Tamil refugee people whom these agencies had had to deal with in May 2009 and the special operation to feed them mounted at the former border post at Omanthai.

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Sri Lanka: shed a tear for the teardrop island February 11, 2010

Posted by southasiamasala in : Gordon, Sandy, Sri Lanka , comments closed

Sandy Gordon

While no reasonable person would shed too many tears for the passing of the Tamil Tigers (except for the number of civilian deaths involved), we should, perhaps, shed some tears for Sri Lanka itself.

A generation ago Sri Lanka had an ambition to become another ‘Asian Tiger’.  And it had every prospect of so doing had not the vicious civil war intervened.

Since then, much has changed.  The Sri Lankan economy, beset by the costs and instabilities of war, has not expanded as hoped.  At least some of the ‘Asian Tigers’, such as Taiwan and South Korea, have liberalised their political dispositions.  Others, like Singapore and Malaysia, still run relatively ‘controlled’ versions of democracy. (more…)

Winning the confidence of the Tamil electorate December 23, 2009

Posted by southasiamasala in : Perera, Jehan, Sri Lanka , comments closed

Jehan Perera

Who the Tamil people will vote for has become an important question at the forthcoming Presidential elections.  The departure of former Army Commander General Sarath Fonseka, and his joining the opposition, has deprived the government leadership of its monopoly regarding credit for the war victory over the LTTE.  This has meant that President Mahinda Rajapaksa can no longer appeal to the majority Sinhalese electorate for their vote of gratitude to himself alone.

The entry of General Fonseka into the ranks of the opposition has also rejuvenated it, particularly the UNP, which was unable to face up to the President’s war victories and appeal to the ethos of the Sinhalese electorate.  Many traditional UNP voters from the Sinhalese ethnic majority began to vote either for the President’s party or for other Sinhalese nationalist parties.  With General Fonseka becoming the common opposition candidate there is a strong likelihood of these renegade UNP voters returning to the fold. (more…)