When memory outlives

Mirusha Yogarajah writes on Toronto’s Tamil community for Briarpatch Magazine. _____ Tamil people created, own, and manage the businesses woven tightly into the fabric of Toronto – Babu Take-Out & Catering, the famous Spiceland franchise – but we are also the workers stocking shelves, sweeping the aisles, weighing and cutting fish, and packing up hundreds of iddiyappams. The restaurant industry was one of the few industries in which Tamil migrants were initially able to find work – albeit often underpaid and exploitative work. Today, we are the working class as well as, increasingly, Toronto’s elite – but behind the wealth of the Tamil elite lies the fact that most of us arrived in Toronto fleeing genocide. Where once we sought shelter in the Nallur Kandaswamy temple in Jaffna, we fled to seek safety at the crosswalks of McCowan and Finch.

"Sri Lanka’s Tamils trapped between war and waste"

2015: Protest in Chunnakam, Jaffna against the Uthuru Janani thermal power plant for dumping waste oil and grease deposits in the local well. Sri Lanka’s ecology and biodiversity are threatened by the continued repression of Eelam Tamils. To protect the land, international mechanisms are needed “to ensure accountability and help pave the way for egalitarianism and self-determination”. The legacy of the war Commenting on the still-lasting impacts of the brutal Sri Lankan war, Visvajit Sriramrajan, notes that many Tamil refugees who had sough asylum abroad have returned to see their land seized...

Mullivaikkal survivor, 5 years old at the time, reflects on painful childhood memories

A 16 year old Mullivaikkal survivor, who was just 5 years old at the time of the massacres, shared their experiences of the genocide on the eleventh anniversary of the atrocities. Pakaloan Vamanan now lives in France.

'May 17 2009, I saw my dad for the last time' - Teenage Mullivaikkal survivor

Kalaiyarasi Kanagalingam, a now 15-year-old survivor of Mullivaikkal, spoke about the last memory of her father and the importance of Tamil genocide recognition at a conference hosted at the Houses of Parliament in October 2019. May 17th, 2009 was the last time she saw her father. We have reproduced her full speech to the conference below. "Hello, my name is Kalaiyarasi Kanagalingam, I am 14 years old and I go to Burntwood High School in Wandsworth. I'm here today to speak about how my life has been affected by what happened in 2009. 2009 was the most memorable and painful year of my life...

‘Post-War Sri Lanka: Fractured and Unjust for Tamils’

(Photo Credit: trokilinochchi ) Over a decade has passed since the Mullivaikkal massacre but “Tamils remain heavily discriminated against by a state that has yet to reckon with its violent past,” writes Visvajit Sriramrajan for The Diplomat . “The war may have drawn to a close, but the island’s minority Tamils continue to be discriminated against severely by the majoritarian government, which has been increasingly emboldened in its subjugation of Tamils since the rise of Gotabaya Rajapaksa to power following the country’s 2019 presidential election.” “In Tamil-majority districts, the end of...

Sri Lanka’s new president is putting soldiers in charge of everything – The Economist

Despite the on-going damage to national reconciliation, Gotabaya Rajapaksa is insistent on the normalisation of “military’s influence in the civilian sphere”, warns the Economist. The normalisation of the military The Economist notes that Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s rise to the presidency was based on the support of former officers, soldiers and his own “band of brothers”. After the civil war ended in 2009, the army and intelligence sectors played an increasing role in Sri Lanka’s public life, as well as the disappearance of government critics. Gotabaya’s ascendance to presidency did not so much...

'Familiar disruption, uncertain future'

File photograph "As sale and exports of fish crash, another huge crisis is staring at Sri Lanka's fisherfolk," writes Meera Srinivasan for The Hindu . "This is not the first time that their livelihoods are being disrupted or destroyed. From the nearly three decade-long civil war until 2009, to the invasive Indian trawlers that reigned their seas soon after, to conflicts with locals operating powerful mechanised boats, to migrant fisherfolk competing for their catch- Sri Lanka's northern fisherfolk have seen it all." "After struggling through the post-war decade, to cope with the aftermath of...

Mother’s Day 2009

11 years have gone by since the Tamil diaspora community mobilized and took our voices to the streets. We raised our voices in an effort to raise awareness on the genocide of Tamils in Sri Lanka. I was 15 at the time, but I remember that day so clearly. It was Mother’s Day, and I was sitting with my family at my grandmother’s house feeling hopeless about what was happening to our people back home. My father and I quickly left to join the thousands of Tamils protesting on University Avenue. After chanting and pleading, we started marching, soon enough we ended up on the Gardiner Expressway.

A pivotal protest

The Gardiner protest was pivotal in shaping the political identity of many young Tamils. It inspired a new generation of activists and my own in continuing to demand justice for Tamils on the island while also carrying on the fight for liberation. The protest, which occurred on Mothers day, had predominately negative public perception and media coverage, evidenced through their use of language - which often carried racial undertones - and played a role in delegitimizing the protest itself. Rather than centring the story around the genocide and international intervention – the purpose behind the protests, the coverage focused on dominant narratives surrounding the Tamil community as being ‘disruptive’, an ‘inconvenience’ and ‘ungrateful’ and labelling us as ‘others’ and ‘terrorists’ while also removing women from their political agency.

‘Sri Lanka’s Expansion into Despotism Goes Unchallenged by Western Democracies’

Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Sri Lanka’s President is “exploiting the novel coronavirus pandemic to undermine the few checks and balances remaining against authoritarianism and sharpening tensions” writes J S Tissainayagam for the International Policy Digest. “The Sri Lanka president’s rhetoric and actions to contain the pandemic will destabilise Sri Lanka and make him a poster boy in the expanding list of populist-led governments that Western democracies view as a threat.” Following the coronavirus outbreak on the island, Rajapaksa “undertook three sets of actions to sow discord between Sri Lankans...