Tamils around the world today remember the 12th anniversary of the massacre of 53 school girls by the Sri Lankan air force. On August 14th, 2006 four Sri Lankan air force jets flew over the Vanni and dropped sixteen bombs were dropped over the Sencholai children's home for orphans, killing 53 school girls and 3 teachers. To date, no-one has been held to account for the deaths.
On August 4th 2006, Sri Lankan troops lined up and summarily executed 17 aid workers with the French NGO Action Contre la Faim (ACF) in Muttur. Sixteen of the aid workers were Tamil, one Muslim. Twelve years on, no one has been held to account for this crime.
“The Americans, the Indians, the United Nations all told us to surrender our children,” says Kandasamy Ponamma. “Now they have all let us go.” Sat on a tarpaulin sheet in the sweltering heat outside a temple in Kilinochchi, she lays out meticulously kept photographs of her family. Her daughter Kirishnakumari, son-in-law Nadesu and their two young children Sarujan and Abitha were all last seen on the 18th of May 2009. Nadesu, a member of the LTTE, had surrendered alongside hundreds of others members and their families to the Sri Lankan military. The whole family, including 5-year-old Sarujan and 2-year-old Abitha, were forced on board a Sri Lankan military bus.
File photograph: Ben Emmerson in Sri Lanka last year ( Sunday Times ) Sri Lanka’s progress towards reform has “ground to a virtual halt” with Tamils on the island “stigmatised and disenfranchised”, concludes a United Nations report on the country’s human rights record. The report by the former Special Rapporteur on countering terrorism Ben Emmerson, says that “none of the measures so far adopted to fulfil Sri Lanka’s transitional justice commitments are adequate to ensure real progress”.
Today we mark thirty-five years since the horrors of the anti-Tamil pogrom of 1983, when Tamils were killed by Sinhala mobs backed by the then UNP government and state forces. Armed with electoral rolls, Sinhala mobs targeted Tamil homes and businesses, looting and ransacking property. Driven from their homes, particularly in Colombo, over 3000 Tamils were massacred, whilst thousands more were effectively deported by the state to the North-East. Eye witness reports described mobs chasing Tamils down the street with knives and setting them alight alive. Many hundreds of women were raped. Tamil political prisoners locked up in Welikada jail, deep within the island's south, were also targeted as prison guards allowed Sinhala inmates to slaughter them.
The Tamil diaspora across the world held a series of rallies earlier this month, in solidarity with families of the disappeared in the North-East who have been protesting for over 500 days. Hundreds attended protests in their respective cities and supported the call for international pressure onto the Sri Lankan government to meet the families’ demands.
Hundreds of new photographs from inside Mullivaikkal in 2009, where tens of thousands of Tamils were slaughtered in a Sri Lankan military offensive, have been released by TamilNet this week. The photographs, taken from inside the infamous No Fire Zones, show the aftermath of Sri Lankan military shelling.
By April 2009, Valaignarmadam had been hit by shells several times. Nestled just hundreds of metres away from Nandikadal lagoon, this small, normally serene town on the coast, was now the site of unbelievable suffering. The preceding weeks and months had seen the town’s church, a makeshift hospital, and even people queuing for handouts of food hit by Sri Lankan artillery, rockets and cluster bombs. It was in this carnage that Mariyathas was with his mother.
An independent collective of Tamil-Canadian activists organized a rally in Toronto on Saturday, June 30 th , 2018 in solidarity with Tamil Families of the Disappeared who were reaching 500 days of continuous roadside protests across the North-East of Sri Lanka. This rally kicked off a series of international rallies in London, Zurich, New York, Berlin, Vancouver, Belfast and Sydney the same week. Hundreds attended protests in their respective cities and supported the call for international pressure onto the Sri Lankan government to meet the Families’ demands.
Cover art by Sagi Thilipkumar On midnight 31 st May 1981, the Jaffna Public Library, famous for being the crucible of Tamil literature and heritage, was set ablaze by Sri Lankan security forces and state-sponsored mobs. Over 95,000 unique and irreplaceable Tamil palm leaves (ola), manuscripts, parchments, books, magazines and newspapers, housed within an impressive building inspired by ancient Dravidian architecture, were destroyed during the burning. Some texts that were kept in the library, such as the Yalpanam Vaipavama (a history of Jaffna), were literally irreplaceable, being the only copies in existence. It was one of the largest libraries in Asia.