British Tamils' remember 1983 pogrom victims

British Tamils held a candle light vigil Saturday evening opposite the Prime Minister’s official residence, 10 Downing Street, to remember victims of Sri Lanka’s 1983 ‘Black July’ anti-Tamil pogrom. See full report, photos here . A thousand people dressed in black and carrying black flags and Eelam national flags, held a vigil between 6 and 9 pm, with lit candles and banners commemorating the pogrom. For several hours before the vigil began, activists and supporters handed out leaflets in the surrounding Whitehall area. The events were organised by the British Tamil Forum (BTF).

Black July: part of Sri Lanka's past - and future

" While Black July destroyed the Tamil economic base in the island, it created the now flourishing global Diasporic economic base. While it sought to silence Tamil political struggle ‘for once and for all’, it instead spread Tamil activism across the world. It sought to erase the Eelam Tamil cultural symbolism and identity, but instead rendered them globally recognised . The present is thus inextricably linked to the past. And the past will also define the future. Until there is accountability for the mass atrocities against the Tamil people, until justice – the bedrock for any lasting peace...

What Black July means for the future

Based on a speech at the vigil in London on July 23, 2011 to remember the victims of Black July. Every year, for 28 years, the Tamil people and our friends across the world have come together in July to remember a crucial turning point in our history. Black July was the largest and most significant of Sri Lanka’s pogroms, more horrific and unrestrained in its violence than the Nazis’ Kristallnacht. In just six days starting on July 23, 1983, Sinhala mobs supported by police and troops attacked the Tamils in the island’s south, killing several thousand and driving the survivors into camps...

Tamils endorse self-rule mandate - again

“The resounding victory consolidates the Tamil National Alliance's status as an authentic representative of ethnic Tamils in negotiations with Rajapaksa's ethnic majority Sinhalese-controlled government in sharing political power and postwar rehabilitation. The party had appealed to voters to give it a mandate to demand self-rule in the Tamil-majority areas .” - Associated Press , July 23, 2011. See the report here . See the election results here . "The military-intimidated elections that took place in the country of Eezham Tamils are a despicable way of exercising democracy or probing public...

Reuters: Jaffna Tamils sceptical of development, voting

Jaffna is still Sri Lanka's most militarised region. Photo AFP Extracts from a Reuters report from Jaffna Saturday: Tamils say President Mahinda Rajapaksa's post-war development and infrastructure projects in the former war zone in the island's north have yet to address their real concerns and have excluded their participation . Voting in Jaffna, as it did in war time, will take place with a heavy military presence . Tamils in Jaffna are reluctant to speak in public due to the presence of government intelligence officers and soldiers , and many Reuters approached gave a brusque "No comment...

‘Elections’ in Kilinochchi

From the Associated Press : Sri Lankan Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage told AP while campaigning in Kilinochchi: This election victory "is of value to the government. .. It will enable us to tell the world that we have won the confidence of the Tamil people after winning the war ." The Tamil National Alliance complained to the elections commissioner that a group [it] believes was military, in uniforms and carrying rifles, forcibly collected polling cards used to identify eligible voters in many parts of Kilinochchi on Friday night. From TamilNet : Causing panic and instilling maximum fear...

Sri Lanka ‘relief’ after Clinton visit to Chennai - report

A ‘top official’ in Sri Lanka’s External Affairs ministry is quoted as saying the Clinton- Jayalalithaa meeting Wednesday had not been as consequential as Colombo had feared. “It is not as bad as we expected,” the official told the Daily Mirror. He said the ministry had been alert to any ‘negative fallout’ from the meeting in Chennai, and had expected a stronger statement than Ms. Clinton had made. He added the absence of a powerful outcome was testament to US’s lack of dominance in the region. Ms. Clinton’s “lukewarm remarks” on Sri Lanka underlined that even as the US was “pushing India to...

Malaysian Tamils raise $330,000 in humanitarian aid

A charity dinner held last weekend by the Tamil Diaspora in Malaysia raised a whopping million Ringgit (US$330,000) to support the humanitarian efforts by the Tamil Forum Malaysia (TFM) for Tamils affected by Sri Lanka's war. See the report here .

Clinton and Jayalalitha discuss Sri Lanka

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa . Photo PTI The United States is “ looking at some innovative and creative ideas to break the impasse over the Sri Lankan Tamils issue ,” PTI quoted visiting US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton telling Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa in Chennai Wednesday. The report did not elaborate. Meanwhile, in a public address Ms. Clinton said that India's example of multicultural democracy should serve as a model for Sri Lanka. Describing Chennai, Tamil Nadu’s capital, as an example of how much society can achieve when all citizens fully join their country's political and economic life, she added: "Every citizen of Sri Lanka deserves the same hope and opportunity for a better future." ( corrected from earlier post ) Her comments predictably drew loud applause from the crowd. Addressing a crowd of students, industrialists, businessmen, artistes and members of civil society at the Anna library, Ms. Clinton said she chose to come to the coastal city as "an admirer of what has been accomplished in the country in the last 18 years". She described Tamil Nadu as one of the "most industrialised and educated states" that indicates why India should take a leadership role in the region . Ms. Clinton’s visit to Tamil Nadu was the only regional engagement of her much anticipated three-day official visit to India. She is the first high-ranking US official to visit the southern state, one of the powerhouses of India’s booming economy, and a key destination for US investment. The US consulate in Chennai issues more skilled temporary worker visas than any other US outpost in the world, the Wall Street Journal says. Aligned interest and values " The United States and India can work together to advance democratic values in the region ,” the Times of India quoted her as saying. " Our interests align and our values converge ." “We can support states transitioning into democracy in Africa and the Middle East. India's Election Commission widely viewed as the gold standard for running elections can play a role in this," she said. " There is no better place to speak about Asia Pacific than Chennai , which looks out onto the Bay of Bengal. Indian traders have sailed these waters for thousands of years and their influence can still be seen across the region – in the Tamil influences in the Angkor Wat temples in Cambodia and in the Ganesha gods that guard homes in Indonesia ." "India will have the duty to speak out against human rights violations in Asia. … "We encourage India not just to look east but also act east." " India's diverse and democratic system can serve as a model for Sri Lanka . In Chennai and in Tamil Nadu, you can see how much society can achieve when all citizens participate in political and economic life. Every citizen of Sri Lanka deserves the same." Meeting Jayalalitha Earlier, Ms. Clinton met with Ms. Jayalalithaa for an hour in the Secretariat. They discussed various social, political and economic issues of common interest, an official press release said. Contrary to assertions attributed to Indian External Affairs Ministry officials last week, the Tamil question in Sri Lanka also featured in their discussions, India press reports said Wednesday. Ms. Jayalalithaa was quoted by PTI as pointing out that though Sri Lanka’s war en ended two years ago, Tamils in Jaffna area are still in camps and unable to go back to the original areas where they used to live. Ms. Clinton also congratulated Ms. Jayalalithaa on her electoral victory in the April 13 Assembly polls, and invited the Tamil Nadu leader to visit the United States, PTI said.

All hail!

In glowing reports on President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s visit to Jaffna on Monday, the state-owned Daily News said he addressed a “mammoth rally” at Velanei, where he received a “rousing welcome by thousands of cheering people. Here’s a picture of them: Velanei, by the way, is on Kayts island, which has for decades been dominated by Sri Lankan military bases and is also the bastion of the pro-government Tamil paramilitary group-cum-political party, the EPDP, led by Douglas Devananda, pictured (r) with President Rajapaksa. Photos Colombopage