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Pungudutivu: A Disintegrating Island

A documentary examining how life on an islet in the Tamil North-East has been crumbling in recent decades was screened in London last month, by the Puńgudutīvu Welfare Association (PWA).

Thanges Paramsothy’s documentary entitled, “Puńgudutīvu: A Disintegrating Island”, featured an in-depth view into life on the coastal island off the Jaffna peninsula, discussing the various socioeconomic impacts suffered after both the mass exodus of native Tamil people of the late 1980’s and the end of the armed conflict in May 2009. Interviews with current residents focussed on issues such as caste discrimination, militarisation, displacement and how the lifeline of investment from the international Tamil diaspora was being diverted and misused by authorities. 

The film was even more pertinent given recent events including the rape and murder of Sivaloganathan Vithya in May 2015, one of many examples of criminal activity on the island which the documentary illustrated as a natural consequence of the crumbling infrastructure and fragile societal order from decades of conflict and displacement.

Mr Paramsothy, a PhD Research Student in Anthropology at the University of East London, described Puńgudutīvu as the ideal place for his research on displacement in Jaffna, lamenting the “lack of detailed studies on the various islands in Sri Lanka and subsequently a lack of understanding of the consequences of the events following the end of the war.” His research team were all a passionate group of citizens of Jaffna, contributing their skills and time to what they deemed an important study.

Following the screening, individuals also spoke on various key notions discussed in the documentary. This included Muthuthamby Sivapalan (President of the PWA) who gave a general overview of Puńgudutīvu, Niraj David (Managing Director of IBC Tamil UK) who spoke on the technical relevance of the film, and Elayathambi Thayanantha (BBC Journalist) who discussed the critical importance of the documentary in contemporary Tamil society.

The PWA described the event as an, “extremely successfully evening for the launch of the documentary” and thanked Mr Paramsothy for, “making such an insightful documentary and bringing light to the current situation in Pungudutivu”.  

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