As a new British Prime minster takes office, Tamils across the country will be watching closely. It is indeed historic that Rishi Sunak will be the first person of South Asian office to hold the highest office in the country. However, both domestically and internationally, he will have his work cut out for him.
A long and hard twenty-two years have passed since Mylvaganam Nimalarajan was murdered in his Jaffna home. His killers operated in plain sight.
Sri Lanka’s former president Gotabaya Rajapaksa is a war criminal accused of overseeing some of the most heinous atrocities of the 21 st century. Under his command Sri Lankan troops unleashed an offensive that saw widespread violations of international law and left as many as 169,796 Tamils unaccounted for. Out of all the countries in the world, Singapore has a particular duty to hold him to account. It must do so before he flees.
Whilst many in the Sinhala South seem satisfied with the opportunity to have a new leader after the ousting of one that they had overwhelmingly voted for just two years prior; for Tamils in the North-East, the dismal choice of candidates is yet further proof that Colombo is incapable of reform.
Whilst firecrackers were let off in Colombo to celebrate Rajapaksa’s resignation, he must not, however, be allowed to leave office without facing any consequences. The former defence secretary should be taken and tried at The Hague over his command responsibility for war crimes and genocide.
With global outrage and distress at Russia’s actions, however, there has also been growing dismay around the world at the radically different lens through which Western states have viewed Moscow’s offensive and Ukraine’s resistance to it. The past week has made it abundantly clear to many peoples around the world; it is not that Western states do not understand the politics of resistance to oppression. It is that they deem some nations or people as apparently unworthy of practising it.
Mangala Samaraweera, a formidable figure in Sri Lankan politics who previously held several ministerial posts, passed away from COVID-19 at a private hospital in Colombo this week. News of his death was met with international tributes from senior political figures worldwide , including the United States, UK, Europe and India. Many of those messages mourned the loss of a man that came to espouse the type of liberal Sri Lankan politics that reverberated with those powers. His passing will therefore be a particular blow to longstanding Western efforts that seek active partners amongst the Sinhala Buddhist polity for the liberal order project.
This week the Sri Lankan government issued a gazette announcing the proscription of hundreds of Tamils and several diaspora organisations, in a move that has generated shock and outrage across the world. The announcement, which renews and broadens a previous 2014 gazette is designed to criminalise, intimidate and terrorise. It must be immediately condemned.
On the 13 July 1985, the initial draft of the Thimpu principles was read aloud during “peace” negotiations mediated by the Indian government. Whilst the supposed peace negotiations have themselves come under criticism as merely being a ploy by the Sri Lankan government to stall the armed conflict and rearm themselves, this was a defining moment in the Tamil liberation struggle. It was the first time that a coalition of Tamil political organisations had unanimously agreed on a set of basic principles which centred on the right to self-determination.