Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Tamils, the Forgotten People of Sri Lanka

(T-Shirt that I got from the Tamil Student Association Today)

As a Canadian, whenever I hear talks about Tamils it's usually referring to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, better know here as the Tamil Tigers. They are a group of rebels in Northern Sri Lanka that have been engaged in a conflict to give the Tamils their own homeland. Over the years they have been accused of committing atrocities against civilians and commissioning the assassination of government officials.

For all the bad that the Tigers are known for their airforce also played an intricate part in the tsunami relief effort a few years back; *according to Tsunami Evaluation Coalition the key NGOs that responded also claimed that the LTTE forces provided extremely efficient and focused leadership and support to the relief effort.

But today I'm not writing about the Tigers or the surrender of some of their commanders. Today I want to write about the thousands of Tamils that inhabit the area (that until today) was controlled by the Tigers. The 3,000,000 Sri Lankan Tamils that are caught in the fighting. The Red Cross today is saying the 26 year old civil war has a reached catastrophic state. In fact 62,000 people had fled at the time the story was published and thousands more have fled since. In all over 70,000 thousand people have died in this conflict and Tamils along with Humanitarian Agencies accuse the Sri Lankan army of slaughtering over 1000 Tamils in the last few days.

International calls for peace, or at least a truce to let the refugees leave the territory unharmed have been ignored by the Sri Lankan government that has been pushing forward with their offensive against the Tigers. The Tigers are indeed a force to be reckoned with and a hardline organization for sure, but lets not forget the women and children and innocent people that live within their controlled territory.

Tamil Montrealers I have spoken to this morning claim they have received news from Sri Lanka that the government of Sri Lanka is on a quest to exterminate their people. Seeing how the calls for a cease-fire to save potential refugees have been ignored by the government it's hard for me to think otherwise until someone in Sri Lanka proves me wrong.

Muchaho Enfermo

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Patrick Ross said...

Apparently, a lot of LTTE supporters are very alarmed that the Tigers are apparently about to lose this conflict once and for all.

But the decisive defeat of a terrorist organization doesn't entail a genocide by any means.

At least the LTTE's defeat should provide thousands of Canadian Tamils who were coerced into financially supporting the Tigers -- by way of threats against their relatives in Sri Lanka -- with some deliverance from that intimidation,

Muchacho Enfermo said...

I'm not implying that the defeat of the Tigers is genocide, the point I'm trying to make is that many innocent civilians are dying on either side and that some of the Tamils I've spoken to, in fact most of them, feel it's a campaign by the Sri Lankan government to exterminate them.

That being said, I'm glad the Tigers are done for. I'm just hoping that the people that were living in their territory will be treated well under the governance of the Sri Lankan government that refused a simple truce to let refugees leave.

Patrick Ross said...

Well, you're right about that. 70,000 people is a lot of people.

70,000, first off, falls far short of a genocide, right? Secondly, one has to consider the time frame over which those 70,000 died.

The more one examines this claim of a Tamil genocide in Sri Lanka, the weaker the case is.

Muchacho Enfermo said...

You're completely right... COnsidering it's over 26 years and I'm sure that at least some of them aren't even Tamil.