Grounding the struggle

The Sri Lankan state’s forcible appropriation of Tamil-owned land and property has escalated in recent weeks. The state’s de-facto seizure of vast tracts of residential land, plantations and farms, occupied and enclosed in ‘high security zones’ during the war by the military, has been ‘legalised’ by new decrees. However, instead of dousing Tamil resistance to Sinhala hegemony, it will have precisely the opposite effect, galvanising anew Tamil hostility to the state and the Sinhalese. The forcible appropriation of land and property brings home to the majority of Tamil families the force of Sinhala oppression today, and fuels the thirst for Tamil Eelam, in ways abstract nationalist appeals cannot.

The Commonwealth faces a clear choice on Sri Lanka

The forthcoming Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) meeting in London can play a crucial role in shaping Sri Lanka’s future. The group must fulfil its responsibility to facilitate collective action by the Commonwealth and directly address Sri Lanka’s grave and systematic violation of values and principles that the Commonwealth has proclaimed to be its own. The CMAG has considerable power. Sri Lanka deserves to be suspended from the Commonwealth and at the very least should not be allowed to host the November Heads of Government Meeting. Failure to act, however, will effectively...

Seeding resistance

Four years ago on the 6th April, hundreds of British Tamils burst onto the streets of Westminster, outraged at the massacre of Tamils in the North-East. An unprecedented, global, mass mobilisation of Tamils followed. The protesters' demands were encapsulated within the slogan: “ Stop Genocide. Free Tamil Eelam ”. Four years on however, with the decimation of the Vanni, the military defeat of the Tamil armed resistance movement, and the on-going persecution of the Tamil people in the North-East, the absolute objective of the protesters evidently failed. Yet nonetheless the 2009 protests remain a milestone in the long Tamil struggle - a defining moment that seeded the next generation of Tamil activists.

Politics and cricket: stepping up to the crease on Sri Lanka

With protests demanding stern Indian action Sri Lanka continuing across the country, Delhi’s relationship with its unruly neighbour has come under intensifying criticism. India’s policy of meek diplomacy and appeasement has only fuelled Sri Lanka’s brazen defiance. In this context the Tamil Nadu state government has responded to the growing public mood by announcing a state wide ban on Sri Lankan players participating in the Indian Premier League. This step has highlighted an avenue for more concerted and co-ordinated international action. A resolute sporting boycott can be utilised as a...

Beyond Geneva

The UN Human Rights Council resolution on Sri Lanka last week rightly invoked mixed sentiments. On the one hand, the passing of the second resolution in two years and the advocacy efforts that accompanied it underlined that Sri Lanka remains firmly on the international agenda and that the coalition of state and non-state actors pursuing accountability for the slaughter of tens of thousands and continuing rights abuses is expanding. On the other hand, the quest for consensus on the Council, and in particular the support of India, resulted in a significant weakening of the resolution’s force and the introduction, as Delhi’s pound of flesh, of elements deeply antithetical to the goals of accountability and justice, and injurious to the political aspirations of the Tamil nation.

A common wealth of values that Sri Lanka does not share

On Monday - Commonwealth Day - the Queen as the head of the Commonwealth, signed a new Charter outlining 16 core beliefs purported to underpin the organisation. The vision set out is a welcome one. Yet the next key Commonwealth event, the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2013 (CHOGM), is due to be held in a country that evidently does not share this vision, nor care to. Four years on, Sri Lanka is no closer to accounting for the crimes of 2009 nor achieving a political solution to prevent renewed violence. Instead, it has exploited its military victory to execute unchecked...

Leaping tiger or cowering mouse

In the almost four years that have passed since the end of the armed conflict in Sri Lanka, the Colombo government has worked relentlessly to consolidate Sinhala dominance over the Tamil speaking regions. During this time, India’s tentative policy of appeasement and meek diplomacy in the hopes of crafting a political solution on the island has, in no uncertain terms, failed dismally. This timid approach has only seen Sri Lanka’s brazen defiance swell, with the state continuing to act audaciously in the face of creeping international pressure, safe in the knowledge that India’s placation will...

Why Balachandran had to die

The recent publication of pictures of Balachandran Prabhakaran, hours before his execution, reiterates once again the brutality of Sri Lanka’s armed forces. The youngest son of the LTTE leader Vellupillai Prabhakaran was only one of thousands killed by the Sri Lankan army, but this execution was different from most other killings. The twelve year old was singled out and executed because he was seen as a representation of the Tamil national struggle. In killing him, the Sri Lankan army, was fulfilling its intention of materially destroying the Tamil struggle. Due to Balachandran’s significance...

More time and space is more of the same

The report by the United Nations High Commissioner’s Office, released last week on Sri Lanka, is another welcome voice to the chorus of heavy-weights slamming the state's crimes against the Tamil people in 2009 and its on-going failure to account for them – but it must be more. The atrocities of 2009 are now well-established, unavoidable truths, however, still there has been no hard action. Instead, acquiescing to Sri Lanka's hollow rhetoric, the state is granted time and space to sort itself out. A year after the UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution on Sri Lanka calling for the most...

The writing on the wall

The Sri Lankan president's public rejection of Tamil autonomy or devolution of powers during his Independence Day address this week, should come as no surprise. Despite the international community's periodic calls on Sri Lanka not to squander its military victory, but use it to negotiate a lasting political settlement, the Sri Lankan state has stubbornly continued to do quite the reverse. Although some international observers remain bewildered by Sri Lanka's stance, in truth key political figures of successive Sri Lankan governments have never shied away from making their fundamental...

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