Updated: 13 Jun 2014, 1500 BST Photographs: Timothy Anderson The world renowned songwriter and hip hop artist, M.I.A (Mathangi Arulpragasam) and the human rights advocate, Bianca Jagger, called for justice for Tamils who had been raped by the Sri Lankan military.
In the run up to the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict,due to take place in London tomorrow, we revisit the evidence documenting the use of sexual violence by Sri Lanka's military against Tamils in the island's ethnic conflict. Photograph - UK Foreign Secretary William Hague calls for perpetrators of sexual violence in Sri Lanka's conflict to be brought to account, speaking in Colombo, Nov 2013
The following account is written by a second generation Tamil from London who was involved in organising the prolonged protest on Parliament Square in Westminster during April and May 2009, the bloody end of Sri Lanka's armed conflict. Theeban (not his real name), then in his early twenties, was studying at a London university. Names have been changed in order to protect the identity of individuals not already within the public domain. I went into university that Sunday morning, April 5th 2009, for what was supposed to be the first day of revision for my finals a month or so later, and read the news. The last areas held by the LTTE that weren’t in a safe zone had been captured by the Sri Lankan military and the Tamil fighters were now trapped in the safe zone, alongside the civilians. I knew then I wasn’t going to get any revision done. I think a lot of people at the time, including myself, were just waiting for the moment the LTTE would launch a counter-offensive. I guess, that’s when I first realised that there’s not going to be the miraculous military recovery as we had expected.
Illustration Keera Rat nam The following account written by Paul M.M. Cooper is based on survivor interviews to Tamils Against Genocide (TAG). Personal details of Mayuran (not his real name), place names and dates have been changed to protect his identity. Mayuran was in his mid-30s when the Sri Lankan army advanced into the LTTE-controlled North-East of Sri Lanka in its final assault. He first joined the LTTE when he was sixteen, and had been part of a team that laid claymore mines along enemy positions and also taught combat to new recruits. In Mayuran's own words, here is what he saw. In...
Illustration Keera Rat nam The following account written by Paul M.M. Cooper is based on survivor interviews to Tamils Against Genocide (TAG). Personal details of Ainkaran (not his real name), place names and dates have been changed to protect his identity. Ainkaran volunteered in a hospital in the contested North East of Sri Lanka when the government began its final offensive on the Tamil separatists. It was 2009, and the outlook was grim for the LTTE. The cadres had set up fortified settlements far behind the frontline in order to escape the artillery of the Sri Lankan Army, but there were some shells, with a range of 3-5km, that could still reach even these safe havens.
Updated 27 May 2014 13:07 BST Students at University of Jaffna commemorate Mullivaikkal massacre 5 years on, amidst death threats and military ban. Photograph @Uthayarasashali In commemorative events across the North-East and the world, the Tamil nation marked 5 years since the massacre of tens of thousands at the end of the armed conflict on May 18th 2009. Remembrance events took place in the North-East in amidst a military ban and overwhelming military presence across the Tamil areas. Tamil media and political parties were targeted on the morning of May 18, as heavily armed troops surrounded the offices of Uthayan , Thinakkural newspapers, the Tamil National People's Front (TNPF) and the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) . Attempts by mourners to say prayers for the dead within temples were also stopped, as armed troops surrounded Nallur and Keerimalai temples, blocking off access to Tamils. Earlier in the week the military banned all temple events and public gatherings to commemorate the dead, stating that no bells should toll on May 17 and 18. The University of Jaffna was ordered shut earlier this month, prompting widespread condemnation from students and staff . Attempts by students to donate blood as an act of remembrance were also stopped, as troops blocked access to the blood donation centre at Jaffna Teaching Hospital. Defying the military however, Tamils in the North-East mourned their loss in private events of mourning, alongside thousands in the diaspora set to attend events in capital cities worldwide. North-East Eastern Provincial Council members commemorate May massacre (27 May 2014) Northern Provincial Council remembers Mullivaikal massacre 5 years on (22 May 2014) Jaffna University commemorates Mullivaikal amidst death threats (21 May 2014) May 2009 killings remembered in Mannar (20 May 2014) Mullivaikal massacre remembered in Jaffna despite military presence (19 May 2014) Tamils in Vavuniya mark May 18 amidst military ban (19 May 2014) Mullivaikal remembered in Kilinochchi amidst military surveillance (18 May 2014) Mullivaikal massacres remembered in Batticaloa (18 May 2014) TNPF defy military to remember Mullivaikal genocide (18 May 2014) TNA Shivajilingham, Sritharan mark May 18 at Nallur, defying military ban (18 May 2014) Remembrance event held in Mullivaikal amidst military harassment (17 May 2014) Police disrupts Mullivaikal memorial event at NPC office (16 May 2014) UK Tamils gather in London to remember massacre of May 2009 (18 May 2014) Canada Canadian Tamils remember May 2009 (20 May 2014) Canadian Tamils commemorate Mullivaikkal in parliament (18 May 2014) Europe May 2009 genocide remembered in the Netherlands (20 May 2014) 'Tamil Genocide Day' marked in Switzerland (19 May 2014) Mullivaikal remembered in Stockholm (19 May 2014) Italian Tamils raise awareness of May 2009 genocide 5 years on (19 May 2014) Danish Tamils remember 5 years since Mullivaikkal (18 May 2014) Mullivaikal remembered by German Tamils in Düsseldorf (19 May 2014) New Zealand Tamils in New Zealand remember Mullivaikal genocide 5 years on (20 May 2014) Tamil Nadu, India Hundreds remember Mullivaikal massacre in events across Tamil Nadu (19 May 2014)
Illustration by Keera Ratnam The following account written by Paul M.M. Cooper is based on a survivor interview to Tamils Against Genocide (TAG). Personal details of Ahalya (*not her real name) and her family members, place names and dates have been changed to protect their identities. Ahalya was in her late twenties when the war in the Northeast of Sri Lanka came to an end. She was the sister of an LTTE fighter who was killed fighting in the war, and since his death had been determined to do what she could to alleviate the suffering of the Tamil-majority population of the LTTE-controlled zone. During the war, Ahalya assisted in the hospital in Oru Kiraamam, while her mother and father stayed at home and looked after her little son. It was hard work, and at first dealing with the wounded and the sick made her heart tremble. She grew tougher, though, and before long her work at the hospital, along with caring for her child, became the focus of her life.
UK politicians, rights activists and campaigners condemned the structural violence taking place against Tamil women in the North-East of Sri Lanka, at a conference held in the House of Commons in Westminster, on Tuesday. The event, highlighting the extensive sexual violence, torture and abuses still being inflicted on Tamil women and the societal structures that lead to these atrocities and perpetuate impunity, was organised by a cross party group of UK MPs, the All Party Parliamentary Group for Tamils (APPGT) in collaboration with the British Tamils Forum (BTF). The societal structures present within Sri Lanka that lead to the injustices and atrocities Tamil women faced were discussed by a panel of activists, campaigners and journalists. The panel comprised Dr Frank Arnold from the medical campaign group MEDACT , Charu Lata Hogg from Chatham House and Child Soldiers International , Dr Juliet Cohen from Freedom From Torture ; and Sujatha Moorthy from the telephone counseling service Jothy Helpline . The panel was moderated by Dr Sivakami Rajamanoharan, Tamil Guardian editor.
Cyril Ramaphosa, Vice President of the African National Congress and South Africa's Special Envoy on its dialogue initiative in Sri Lanka addresses speaking at a Hindu Easter festival this weekend. Photograph courtesy of Subry Govender. An effort by South Africa to facilitate negotiations between the Sri Lankan government and the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) received renewed public interest this month following the visit there by the TNA leadership to meet with Special Envoy, Cyril Ramaphosa, who was appointed earlier this year by President Zuma to facilitate, what is described as the first of the five pillar programme – 'talks about talks'. The TNA delegation was led by TNA leader R. Sampanthan and including parliamentarians MA Sumanthiran, Selvam Adaikalanathan and Suresh Premachandran. Arriving in Johannesburg on April 9, they were welcomed by a familiar face, the South African High Commissioner for Colombo, Geoff Doidge, before meeting over the next three days with Mr. Ramaphosa and several officials from the South Africa's Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) including the Minister of DIRCO, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, and the Deputy Minister Ebrahim Ebrahim at his residence. The Sri Lankan government has been noticeably silent on the South African role, and on talks with the TNA, but the high profile of the MPs visit has drawn intense interest, especially as the TNA has since remained tight-lipped over details of their discussions. A press conference to be held on Saturday in Jaffna to elaborate on the visit was cancelled at the last minute. “It was a very preliminary meeting, we just explained about our past experience in dialogue with Sri Lankan government,” Mr Premachandran, spokesperson of the TNA, told Tamil Guardian two days after the delegation's return. “He listened [to] whatever we said, it was a long discussion,” Mr. Premachandran said of the meeting with Mr. Ramaphosa on April 11. Mr. Sumanthiran, confirming the TNA's meeting with DIRCO officials, was upbeat about President Zuma's appointment of a special envoy which he described as an escalation of South Africa’s involvement. “The South African initiative has been there for more than two years, but has moved to another plane now with the appointment of the special envoy,” Mr Sumanthiran said in an email to Tamil Guardian. “This was our first meeting with him and it is too premature to comment in detail at this stage,” he added.