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Old 13.05.2009, 22:43
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Conflict in Sri Lanka

As a Sri Lankan, I am interested in knowing what people think/know of the Sri Lankan conflict?
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Old 13.05.2009, 22:54
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Re: Conflict in Sri Lanka

Just like what the Belgians did in Rwanda, I blame England. They came, colonized and the peasants gets screwed.
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Old 13.05.2009, 22:58
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Re: Conflict in Sri Lanka

I usually try to understand the backgrounds. While I by now read enough to understand who is actually fighting against who (since there are "different Tamils") one thing I am not sure: I understand that the Indian Tamils were poorer and had less support than the other groups in the country (higher child death rates and so on). However: Was this in the past decades (after they finally became Sri Lankan citizens) really a real, "ethnic" discrimination against them or are they simply living the in the undeveloped parts and at some point became angry about not enjoying the benefits the "city people" in Colombo would have? Is it ethnic or more geographically? Do "Indian Tamils" enoy the same rights if they live in the same place? Have they the freedom to move for example to the city?

You know there is little relieable and trustworthy information that does not come directly "from one side"... since you are Sri Lankan, how do you see it?
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Old 13.05.2009, 23:15
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Re: Conflict in Sri Lanka

Hi Tanuja,
It's absolutely horrendous what is happening in your country now and I wish the UN would get over there and intervene. Why aren't they? I hope that your family and friends are in safety.
I was actually wondering what the Sri Lankans think of the situation, and whether the Sinhalese support how their government's trying to end it. And to think they call themselves Buddhists!
On the other hand, it's hard to have much sympathy for the Tigers. I don't know all that much about the history, but from what I gather, they started out as a bunch of freedom fighters with a good cause, and turned into a terrorists with blood-thirsty, vicious leaders and methods.
I'd be interested to ask you how many Tamils live in exile now. I was in London last month when the protesters shut down the whole of Westminster. It was pretty amazing...
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Old 13.05.2009, 23:31
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Re: Conflict in Sri Lanka

I personally think that the government troops, by no showing any kind of mercy under the current situation (even with the civilian population in the middle), are behaving as the group they are fighting against. Quite a few civilians have died due to their attacks. By becoming martyrs, maybe the Tamil tigers are winning after all. Or maybe the government is killing two birds with one stone. Not that I support the Tiger's behavior at all, but I would expect a country government to behave as much as possible under the rule of the law and to price civilian lives for what they worth, irrespectively of their race or religion.
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Old 14.05.2009, 10:58
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Re: Conflict in Sri Lanka

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I usually try to understand the backgrounds. While I by now read enough to understand who is actually fighting against who (since there are "different Tamils") one thing I am not sure: I understand that the Indian Tamils were poorer and had less support than the other groups in the country (higher child death rates and so on). However: Was this in the past decades (after they finally became Sri Lankan citizens) really a real, "ethnic" discrimination against them or are they simply living the in the undeveloped parts and at some point became angry about not enjoying the benefits the "city people" in Colombo would have? Is it ethnic or more geographically? Do "Indian Tamils" enoy the same rights if they live in the same place? Have they the freedom to move for example to the city?

You know there is little relieable and trustworthy information that does not come directly "from one side"... since you are Sri Lankan, how do you see it?
The Indian Tamils are now inherently part of the entire Tamil community. Nevertheless, the up-country Tamils or the Tamils who live in the hill country were initially brought by the British to Sri Lanka as cheap labour for their tea/rubber/coffee estates. These Tamils now work as tea pluckers and as other menial labourers, live in line houses (usually two roomed) with common toilets/poor sanitation and have serious alcohol issues due to acute poverty. Today the situation is not as dire as it was several years ago with many from the second and third generations moving out into the city breaking away from the 'slave labour' stigma. There are also Indian Tamils who came to Sri Lanka as traders who live in main cities like Colombo and Kandy. They are much better off and enjoy 'equal' rights.

I fully agree with you in relation to the 'reliability' of information that is available of the Sri Lankan conflict given the extreme activism of pro-LTTE people. It is indeed a sad state of affairs!
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Old 14.05.2009, 11:06
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Re: Conflict in Sri Lanka

I find the conflict is horrible and I am so angry that the world is giving it so little attention. It's as if no one cares but we all get upset because the Tamils are protesting in our countries - well, where else should they protest? They should protest and loudly and we should all join in. Atrocities, no matter by whom they are committed are wrong and that poor country has really had it's fair share. I lived in Sri Lanka for 4 years working for an NGO mainly in the Trincomalee area and I still can't believe some of the things I saw there. Both sides are to blame for this escalation, but why can't anyone find a way to end it?
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Old 14.05.2009, 11:18
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Re: Conflict in Sri Lanka

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Hi Tanuja,
It's absolutely horrendous what is happening in your country now and I wish the UN would get over there and intervene. Why aren't they? I hope that your family and friends are in safety.
I was actually wondering what the Sri Lankans think of the situation, and whether the Sinhalese support how their government's trying to end it. And to think they call themselves Buddhists!
On the other hand, it's hard to have much sympathy for the Tigers. I don't know all that much about the history, but from what I gather, they started out as a bunch of freedom fighters with a good cause, and turned into a terrorists with blood-thirsty, vicious leaders and methods.
I'd be interested to ask you how many Tamils live in exile now. I was in London last month when the protesters shut down the whole of Westminster. It was pretty amazing...
Yeah it is indeed horrendous and it doesn't help when there is so much censorship/ lack of access in terms of reliable news reporting. I have many Sri Lankan Sinhalese friends since I was fortunate to have lived in the South all my life. Hardly any of them really support the GoSL's blind military action that has caused so much human suffering. Nevertheless, I think there is also a high level of weariness with the conflict that has protracted for such a long time. People are also wary of the Tigers getting a new lease of life because they have indeed an equal amount of blood in their hands. Most of the masses that do support the GoSL and actually consider them a as the heroes of the nation are the simple folk who really just want to get on with their lives. These are tough times economically and military expenditure is on an all time high! 'Buddhism' in practice in Sri Lanka is definitely not in its purest forms, with the Buddhist clergy responsible for much corruption within their ranks.

As for people living in exile, I am not really sure about the figures but the numbers are indeed quite high (2009 asylum requests in Switzerland by Sri Lankans are around 454 after the Eritreans which is around 782). There is also a distinct division in terms of the Tamil diaspora with the more pro-LTTE people still wanting Tamil Eelam, is truly an unachievable Utopia! Furthermore, most of these pro-Tiger supporters have blood on their hands too in terms of financing the war. I guess they are now worried that the authorities of their host countries will soon crack down on them if the LTTE is brought into account. On the other hand people like me are part of a rather small group who see both sides of the story but end up branded as pro-government!
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Old 14.05.2009, 11:18
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Re: Conflict in Sri Lanka

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I find the conflict is horrible and I am so angry that the world is giving it so little attention. It's as if no one cares but we all get upset because the Tamils are protesting in our countries - well, where else should they protest?
To be honest, I just tried to come up with a positive example where the Western countries really helped and managed to end a conflict peacefully. Nothing comes to my mind.
In the past US and European involvement made conflicts longer and worse... so I am not sure what I would want them to do?
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Old 14.05.2009, 11:19
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Re: Conflict in Sri Lanka

As usual, like many places in the world, the issue goes back to establishment of identities like state, country, in spite of differences in language, religion,... Then comes some discriminations, peacefull protest doesn't work, then some hardliners take the gun, fight for freedom but in the meantime use harsh way,the other side call terror action.,both side called deads martyrs,........ in the end lots of people killed or suffered
Eventually all those people will need to live beside each othe peacefully. The sooner better.
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Old 14.05.2009, 11:21
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Re: Conflict in Sri Lanka

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To be honest, I just tried to come up with a positive example where the Western countries really helped and managed to end a conflict peacefully. Nothing comes to my mind.
In the past US and European involvement made conflicts longer and worse... so I am not sure what I would want them to do?
When they do someting, they are called interferrer, occupiers, colonizers,...
And when they stay out, they are called Careless, useless, egoistic,...

Human being is never satisfied.
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Old 14.05.2009, 11:31
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Re: Conflict in Sri Lanka

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I find the conflict is horrible and I am so angry that the world is giving it so little attention. It's as if no one cares but we all get upset because the Tamils are protesting in our countries - well, where else should they protest? They should protest and loudly and we should all join in. Atrocities, no matter by whom they are committed are wrong and that poor country has really had it's fair share. I lived in Sri Lanka for 4 years working for an NGO mainly in the Trincomalee area and I still can't believe some of the things I saw there. Both sides are to blame for this escalation, but why can't anyone find a way to end it?
I agree with you when you say that the Tamils should protest but when you look at the protests closely you realise that there is definitely a different agenda than crying out for an end to the suffering of the civilians. You see them chant slogans such as 'Our leader - Prabhakaran', 'Genocide' and 'We want Tamil Eelam'! In my opinion the Tamil diaspora truly has a lot of clout with the Tigers, so why aren't they ask the Tigers to release the civilians? Furthermore, when I see them use their own children in these protests and being a mother of two children my blood turns cold. They claim it is the only means to bring focus on the suffering in Sri Lanka. But I find this truly hard to digest. Apparently, in Zurich's May Day events the Tamil protestors had this huge cage with small children inside, their heads tied with bloodied bands and a man dressed in military fatigues walked around this cage hitting on it with a baton while the children screamed inside in unison! To me this is a form of child abuse!
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Old 14.05.2009, 11:35
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Re: Conflict in Sri Lanka

What I know about the conflict: The Tamil Tigers have suffocated the more moderate Tamil movements in Sri Lanka and also showed no mercy for Singhalese civilians with terrorist attacks and for Tamil civilians at wartime. The Singhalese government oppresses the Tamil minority and fans the ethic conflict hoping to stay in power with this bogeyman. With the military victory imminent they are about to throw away the oportunity for peace by not making any concessions. Hard to have sympathy for either side.

The Sri Lankan diaspora in Switzerland is better integrated in the local society than many other foreign groups and maintains strong ties with Sri Lanka, mostly through LTTE affiliated organisations. LTTE while monitored in Switzerland is not categorised as terrorist organisation, also because of Swiss participation in peace talks (Norway puts the most effort in that though). Tamils in Switzerland donate much money to LTTE for patriotic reasons but also because they fear the pressure from the local organisations. European donations for LTTE flow through Switzerland.

The Norwegian peace effort has failed for now and international interest in the conflict is on the low side despite its duration and intensity.
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Old 14.05.2009, 11:36
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Re: Conflict in Sri Lanka

This is an interesting article written by a lady who left the LTTE several years ago and is now living in London, in exile and works as an activist with an organisation called Sri Lanka Democracy Forum. It captures the diaspora issue quite well.

http://www.opendemocracy.net/article...-and-realities
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Old 14.05.2009, 11:39
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Re: Conflict in Sri Lanka

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What I know about the conflict: The Tamil Tigers have suffocated the more moderate Tamil movements in Sri Lanka and also showed no mercy for Singhalese civilians with terrorist attacks and for Tamil civilians at wartime. The Singhalese government oppresses the Tamil minority and fans the ethic conflict hoping to stay in power with this bogeyman. With the military victory imminent they are about to throw away the oportunity for peace by not making any concessions. Hard to have sympathy for either side.

The Sri Lankan diaspora in Switzerland is better integrated in the local society than many other foreign groups and maintains strong ties with Sri Lanka, mostly through LTTE affiliated organisations. LTTE while monitored in Switzerland is not categorised as terrorist organisation, also because of Swiss participation in peace talks (Norway puts the most effort in that though). Tamils in Switzerland donate much money to LTTE for patriotic reasons but also because they fear the pressure from the local organisations. European donations for LTTE flow through Switzerland.

The Norwegian peace effort has failed for now and international interest in the conflict is on the low side despite its duration and intensity.
All true, but I feel that the Tamil diaspora in Switzerland is still ghettoized, especially in terms of the new arrivals!
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