‘Myanmar and Sri Lanka: Bound by Travails’

Writing in The Diplomat this week, Tamil Guardian features editor Thusiyan Nandakumar said the February coup in Myanmar “should serve as a wake-up call when it comes to Sri Lanka”. “As armored vehicles rolled through Myanmar’s capital early February, thousands of miles away, in another Asian state led by fervent Buddhist nationalists and under increasing militarization, a different army accused of genocide also marched troops through the streets,” writes Nandakumar. “Sri Lanka’s former defense secretary turned president, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, was overseeing an oversized military parade on the...

Tamils and Justice can’t wait: The Need for Decisive UN Action on Sri Lanka

(Photo of Kilinochchi protest 20 February 2021) Writing in Just Security, Tasha Manoranjan, Executive Director of People for Equality and Relief in Lanka (PEARL), highlights that a failure to address impunity in Sri Lanka has “very real consequences, even beyond the preservation of international rule of law”. “Its consequences are lived daily by Tamil survivors, who continue to live in a heavily militarised security state,” writes Manoranjan. In Mullaitivu, she notes, there is one soldier for every two civilians. She further remarks on the suffering of Families of the Disappeared stating: “...

A growing crisis in Sri Lanka

Writing in the Hindu, Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asian Director at Human Rights Watch, calls upon India to fulfil its obligations and support a strong resolution at the next UN Human Rights Council session which aims to “reduce the growing risk of future atrocities” in Sri Lanka. In her piece, Ganguly highlights not only India’s commitments , to ensure that Tamils in Sri Lanka “live with equity, equality, justice, peace and dignity”, but also the worsening human rights situations in Sri Lanka. Ganguly notes the increasing abuses Tamils have faced in the North-East; the attacks on the rights of...

Muthiah’s search for his son

Last week, photographs of Muthiah Theivendran, a Tamil father searching for his forcibly disappeared son, went viral across social media. Muthiah was part of the tens of thousands of Tamil protestors who rallied across the North-East earlier this month, during the Pottuvil to Polikandy demonstration. But it wasn’t the image of him marching alongside the masses that caught the attention of social media users. Instead, it was a photograph of the elderly, bearded gentleman, cutting a desolate figure, as he walked barefoot and alone after the protest had ended. He was still wearing his mask, his red and yellow headband from the protest and still clutching a photograph of his disappeared son.

Echoes of the past in a new phase for the Tamil Struggle: #P2P and beyond

Writing in the Daily FT, Mario Arulthas, strategic advisor for People for Equality and Relief in Lanka (PEARL) and PhD student at SOAS University, reflects on the legacy of the P2P marches and notes that “the fundamental spirit […] echoes that of the first significant post-independence mass-mobilisation in 1956”. The P2P protests which began on 3 February 2021, mobilised thousands of Tamils and Muslims in the North-East as they peacefully marched from Pottuvil in Amparai to Polikandy in Jaffna, two points delineating the furthest ends of the traditional Tamil homeland, in defiance of numerous...

Not All Detainees Are Equal: Class, Ethnicity and the Prevention of Terrorism Act

The Sri Lankan state portrays those arrested for allegedly committing terror offences, to date mainly Tamils, and after the Easter attacks also Muslims, as guilty from the point of arrest, writes Ambika Satkunananthan in GroundViews. In an article dissecting the impact of ethnicity and class on Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) detainees, the former commissioner at the Human Rights Commission (HRCSL) describes how “historically, Tamils, dissenters, those critical of the government of the time, and anyone calling for accountability for human rights violations have been labelled LTTE or...

Against the Memory Police: War and Remembrance in Sri Lanka

The destruction of the Mullivaikkal monument at the University of Jaffna on January 8 is an erasure of collective memory, writes Thamil Venthan Ananthavinayagan in The Diplomat. Ananthavinayagan, a lecturer in public international law writes: The Sri Lankan government is forcing upon the international community an erasure of memory while asserting and maintaining its own narrative of majoritarian victory. The existence of memory for the minority poses, in the view of the government, the possibility of a revival of terrorism. It is also about dominating public discourse which should cater...

Coronavirus took my Appa from my life

Dr Suthan Ulakanathan tells the story of how his family has dealt with grief in a time of chaos. It’s Easter Sunday, 12 April 2020, and my mobile phone rings at 11:55 PM. It is the hospital's intensive care doctor who tells me my father has deteriorated in the last few hours. He asks if I want to come and see him should he get worse. I immediately say yes as I hadn’t seen him in person for several weeks and I missed him a lot. I get my clothes ready and sit in bed with my wife, tears running down my cheeks, as I am expecting the worst news I would ever receive in my life. At 1:30 AM I get the phone call I’ve been dreading. Appa had passed away.

Beyond “Funny Boy” Towards Solidarity

Funny Boy is a courageous, groundbreaking novel by Shyam Selvadurai centering a young, Gay Tamil boy in Colombo, [Sri] Lanka/Ilankai during the 1983 massacre of Tamils. As the novel — which had unearthed oft-silenced truths about the lived experiences of Intersex, Trans, and Queer Tamil-speaking communities — makes its way to the big screen, we find ourselves once again working to break through the false narratives around our communities’ experiences.

A Letter to my Eelam Tamils, or, Why you shouldn't watch Funny Boy

Funny Boy was my only hope at being seen as at least two out of the three, an explicitly queer Eelam Tamil whose only mistake was loving. Arjie was me, I am Arjie. Both of us, struggling to come to terms with who we are but also wanting to honour the struggles our families face. Both my parents fled Sri Lanka at the time this film was set in - the Black July pogroms of 1983 - leaving behind the ghosts of family members both murdered and disappeared. But all that is left in me is rage and a thirst for blood that I never knew I had. I have not come out to my parents - my queer existence remains solely online and in the hearts of my friends - but I thought Funny Boy would be the film I would show them when I eventually did. Instead, what I have been left with is an unholy alliance of historical inaccuracy and brutalisation of the Tamil language.