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.