'Rajapaksa, in a Landslide'

Writing in Foreign Policy magazine, Professor Neil DeVotta warns of “Rajapaksa rule well into the future” and possible anti-Muslim pogroms “in the days ahead unless the international community bands together to protect them”. Calling Sri Lanka’s recently elected prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and president Gotabaya Rajapaksa “Sinhalese Buddhist supremacists”, DeVotta states that under their previous tenure “radical Sinhalese Buddhist nationalists enjoyed free rein to inveigh against minorities, with Muslims especially targeted following the end of the civil war”. Militarisation Referring to...

Sri Lanka's election results show troubling times ahead - Newsletter, 10 August 2020

Sri Lanka’s parliamentary elections last week delivered a bleak, but unsurprising, result with the Rajapaksas gaining a majority that consolidates their hold on the state. With their allies, they now have a two-thirds majority in parliament, granting them the power to make constitutional changes that they have long campaigned on. The 19th Amendment, which placed limits on the executive presidency, looks set to be abolished and the modicum of devolution that was pledged through the 13th Amendment now appears under threat. In the North-East, Tamil votes went in a different direction than they...

‘Sri Lanka’s Southern Political Parties Need the LTTE at Election Time’ - J.S. Tissainayagam

Writing on the repeated fear-mongering over a revival of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), J.S Tissainayagam notes how the spectre of the LTTE has been used as a “foil to win elections and justify lapses in good governance”; as well as, a means of justifying the “justify continued coercion of the Tamils”; and, to attract “foreign military assistance for counterterrorism”. Regrouping the LTTE Commenting on the current elections, Tissainayagam highlights four separate moves the Sri Lankan President has made to raise concerns over the LTTE regrouping. He notes that these stories are...

Sri Lanka’s State Responsibility for Historical and Recent Tamil Genocides

Reports of genocide committed by the Sri Lankan state against Eelam Tamils need to be “addressed and recognized” wrote Tasha Manoranjan and Meruba Sivaselvachandran in Opinio Juris last week, 37 years after the Black July pogroms that killed thousands of Tamils. “Eelam Tamils have suffered at least two genocides: Black July of 1983 and the Mullivaikkal Massacre of 2009," said the piece. “It is important that these allegations of genocide are addressed and recognized. And the Tamil people, like the Rohingya people, require justice for the mass atrocities against them, over time, by the state...

Dire times to come - Newsletter, 27 July 2020

As parliamentary elections draw closer, campaigning has heated up across the island. In the North-East, Tamils, including families of the disappeared, have signaled their discontent at the current state of military occupation, repression and impunity. More than eleven years on from the massacres of Mullivaikkal, dozens of men and women have died searching for their abducted loved ones. They, and the Tamil people, remain no closer to justice for the atrocities they endured. Across the homeland, their protests have defiantly continued and their frustration is palpable.

'We could not be silenced' - Tamil protests in London, 1984

“It had been a year since the Black July riots in Sri Lanka. We had protested in front of the Sri Lankan Embassy in London but wanted to try something different. Something bigger. The Sri Lankan cricket team was coming to play their first test match at Lord’s, the home of cricket. It was a big deal. Why don't we put on a protest there? It would be disruptive, yes, but was there a bigger stage for our message?

In solidarity with Guruparan

Following months of state-led harassment, Dr Kumaravadivel Guruparan handed in his resignation to the University of Jaffna last week. Not only is this a massive loss to academia on the island, but it is a stark and dangerous marker of the road that Sri Lanka is hurtling down, writes Thusiyan Nandakumar .

How the 1981 riots shaped my future

This was my father’s lorry that he used for his business, he actually owned two of them and would deliver goods across Sabaragamuwa Province in Sri Lanka. He also owned two shops in Ratnapura. He was doing well in life. In 1981, the anti Tamil violence by Sinhala mobs reached Ratnapura and my father’s lorries and shops were looted and burnt to the ground. People were killed, businesses destroyed and women raped.

Karuppar Koottam controversy: Fodder for Hindu nationalists

For a people whose brethren fought an armed war of liberation against a nation-state for 25 years, the sense of nationalism among the Tamils in India have been remarkably flaccid. The political culture of the state of Tamil Nadu has always been one where nationalism was never far below the surface, but was undermined sedulously by political parties that pretended to accentuate it. A recent incident in the state shines light on how this charade has given way to the rise of malign forces that are hell-bent on eroding the ‘Tamilness’ of the Tamils.

Remembering the Thimpu principles

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.

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