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A Surveillance State - Newsletter, 1 June 2020

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Today marks 40 years since Sri Lankan security forces and state-sponsored Sinhala mobs set ablaze the Jaffna Public Library, the crucible of Tamil literature and heritage, which housed over 95,000 irreplaceable Tamil palm leaves, books and manuscripts. The burning has been etched in the hearts of Eelam Tamils as an act of genocide. Although 40 years have passed, no one has been held accountable for this painful unbearable loss of the Tamil nation. 

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka’s security forces continue to escalate their militarisation of the North-East. Last week, the Sri Lankan Air Force was seen using drone surveillance to monitor and target locals in Jaffna and Mullaitivu, who they claimed to be violating coronavirus guidelines. 

This surge in harassment and surveillance follows the onslaught by the state to block commemorative events to remember the massacre at Mullivaikkal in May 2009. On the eve of Tamil Genocide Day, the Sri Lankan army locked down several areas of Mullaitivu, to prevent access to Mullivaikkal. Although a court order allowed for the memorial to go ahead, Sri Lanka ramped up its deployment of soldiers leading up to and around the Mullivaikkal massacre site.

As the Sri Lankan State continues its crackdown, Tamils in the island and diaspora continue to resist. The courageous activism of British Tamils has led to increasing demands for sanctions on Sri Lanka's notorious army commander and recognition, by the British courts, that Sri Lanka is an "authoritarian regime" which threatens Tamil activists.

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