Facebook icon
Twitter icon
e-mail icon

America and Jaffna

This is what US Ambassador to Colombo, Ms. Patricia Butenis, said Monday at the opening of the American Corner in Jaffna:

“Not everyone may realize that Americans have a long relationship with the people of Jaffna.

American missionaries arrived here in 1813, almost two hundred years ago. They taught English and learned Tamil, founded the first printing press in Jaffna, started the first Tamil language newspaper anywhere, and established Sri Lanka’s first medical school.

“The opening of the American Corner today is a symbol of our sustained commitment to the people of Jaffna.

“The American Corner is a place that will connect Jaffna with the rest of Sri Lanka, and with the world.”

See the full text of her speech here. (See also TamilNet's report and pictures here)

A reminder of what Tamil Guardian’s editorial of June 2, 2010 argued:

Before Sinhala domination began in the late 1940s, the Tamil homeland had been connected in myriad ways to global flows for millennia. Quite apart from the time of South India-based imperial networks, even during Western colonial rule the Northeast was well connected to the rest of the subcontinent and other parts of the world.

“Since the island’s independence from Britain, however, the Sinhala-dominated state has sought not only to concentrate power in the South, but also to isolate the Northeast, making Colombo the sole gateway between the world and the Tamil homeland.

“Unless the Sinhala stranglehold on the Northeast is first broken, the Tamils will continue to be largely – and deliberately - excluded from global economic flows.”

This is what Indian Foreign Minister S M Krishna said in Jaffna last November:

“Over centuries, Jaffna has always stood at the crossroads of history, culture and religion, kings and kingdoms, trade and commerce, and arts, dance and literature. Jaffna port was on the main sea route of its times. … It’s time to revive those links.”

See our earlier posts:

- India and Jaffna

- Jaffna and the world

See also our analysis here of US and Indian efforts to restore normalcy in Jaffna and rest of the northeast, and Sri Lanka's resistance. (See also this)

We need your support

Sri Lanka is one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a journalist. Tamil journalists are particularly at threat, with at least 41 media workers known to have been killed by the Sri Lankan state or its paramilitaries during and after the armed conflict.

Despite the risks, our team on the ground remain committed to providing detailed and accurate reporting of developments in the Tamil homeland, across the island and around the world, as well as providing expert analysis and insight from the Tamil point of view

We need your support in keeping our journalism going. Support our work today.

For more ways to donate visit https://donate.tamilguardian.com.