Sri Lankan state crackdown on Maaveerar Naal across Tamil homeland

The Sri Lankan state has intensified its crackdown on commemorations of Maaveerar Naal, the Tamil national remembrance day for fallen LTTE fighters, with police obtaining court injunctions against commemorations in several districts and both police and Sri Lankan army setting up roadblocks and checkpoints around LTTE cemeteries. The Jaffna High Court on Friday rejected petitions against a number of injunctions, with the judge ruling that the court had no jurisdiction to issue such an order. The court however further stated that no one can prevent the petitioners from commemorating individually, but that collective commemoration was a matter related to national security.

Sri Lanka accelerates Sinhalisation across Vavuniya

Local Tamils have expressed concern and outrage after an area previously known as Kachchal Samalankulam in Vavuniya has become ‘Sinhalised’ and has had its name changed to Sapumalgaskada and a signboard labelled ‘Sapumalgaskada Archaeological Site’ was put up in the area, last week. The Sinhalisation adds to the expansion of colonisation across the North-East of Tamil areas, where Tamil names have been erased and converted to Sinhala names, and Tamil areas are becoming occupied by Sinhala settlers with the support of Sri Lankan military and government officials.

Kamala Harris - the first Black and Tamil woman to become Vice President of the USA

California senator Kamala Harris has become the first Black and Tamil woman to be elected the Vice President of the United States. Harris’ mother, Shyamala Gopalan, is a Tamil woman who grew up in Chennai, whilst her father Donald grew up in Jamaica. In her memoir, Harris writes how she would visit Tamil Nadu almost every year and understands small amounts of Tamil. In her address to the Democratic National Convention earlier this year, Harris paid tribute to her 'chithis' - a word in Tamil for aunties.

Remembering Thamilselvan 13 years on

Today marks thirteen years since S. P. Thamilselvan, the head of the political wing of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) was assassinated by the Sri Lankan air force (SLAF). On November 2, 2007 Sri Lankan air force jets carried out a strike on a residence of members of the LTTE's political division. Five other LTTE officials - Lt. Col. Anpumani (Alex), Major Mikuthan, Major Nethaaji, Lt. Aadchiveal and Lt. Maavaikkumaran - were killed alongside Brigadier Thamilselvan, in the attack. The assassination came as the Sri Lankan government ramped up its military offensive in the Tamil homeland.

‘The greatest humanitarian crisis of the war’ – Press coverage of the Jaffna Exodus

As we mark 25 years since the Jaffna exodus, which led to over half a million Tamil men, women and children fleeing their homes, we look back at press coverage from the time. On 21 September 1995, as the Sri Lankan military prepared to launch its offensive, new emergency regulations were imposed, granting widespread censorship powers on all war-related reporting. All reports had to be run past a government-appointed Competent Authority for Censorship before publication. As the offensive began, death and displacement followed. On October 30, 1995, the entire town of Jaffna, the largest Tamil...

The fight for Jaffna – October 1995

Jaffna has been considered the cultural capital of Eelam Tamils for centuries, as well as being the crucible of the Tamil liberation movement and the armed struggle against Sri Lankan state operation which began in the 1970s following non-violent political campaigns. Following the 1983 'Black July' pogrom in Colombo, fighting began between Tamil militants and Sri Lankan troops within the Jaffna peninsula - first against the Sri Lankan military and in the late 80’s, the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF). When the Indian army withdrew in 1990, the LTTE assumed control of Jaffna, except for the...

Remembering the Jaffna exodus – 500,000 displaced

On the day 25 years ago, over half a million Tamil men, women and children fled their homes in Jaffna as the Sri Lankan military launched a military offensive to capture the peninsula, under the leadership of then president Chandrika Kumaratunga. On October 30, 1995, the entire town of Jaffna, the largest Tamil population centre on the island, streamed out in a mass exodus for the safety of the Vanni, which was then controlled by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Walking for several miles east, crossing the Navatkuli bridge, the throngs of people, carrying whatever they could...

US ban on Shavendra Silva is ‘legal requirement’ says Pompeo

As US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Sri Lanka this week, he was asked repeatedly about a travel ban imposed on the head of Sri Lanka’s army Shavendra Silva over his role in overseeing war crimes. Earlier this year, Pompeo’s office announced a travel ban on Silva and his immediate family, “due to his involvement in extrajudicial killings” of Tamils. At the time, State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said “this sends an important message to those guilty of committing war crimes, not only in Sri Lanka, but around the world”. “It is also a crucial signal for Tamil victims and...

Pompeo discusses China, trade and travel bans with Sri Lanka

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned of China’s “predator” relationship with Sri Lanka as he held high level meetings with Sri Lankan leaders in Colombo today, with trade, accountability for rights abuses and a US travel ban on army commander Shavendra Silva also discussed. Pompeo met with Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who himself stands accused of war crimes, where the two discussed “post-pandemic economic recovery and development and the importance of our partnership to bolster sustainable and transparent trade and investment”. “The United States seeks to strengthen our partnership with...

Britain’s decision to ban LTTE is ‘flawed’, rules commission

A landmark judgement from Britain’s Proscribed Organisations Appeal Commission found that the Home Office decision to keep the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) proscribed as a terrorist organisation was “flawed” and unlawful, and paves the way for the organisation to possibly being legalised in the United Kingdom. This is only the second time in the Commission’s history that such an appeal has been heard in the past twenty years. The Commission which issued its judgement in London this morning, will now hold a second hearing to decide on relief to be issued to the applicants. The...