Diaspora participation in post-war revival and reconstruction of the Tamil homeland in Ilankai/Sri Lanka

Seven years ended in May 2016 since the civil war ended, but the unfortunate consequences of the conflict continue to have a huge impact on the lives of the people in the island. Although the Tamil people of the North faced the brunt of the brutal war in the final phase, the life of the Tamils in both the North and the East in the post war situation is a difficult and bitter struggle. The gruesome events in the last phase of the war galvanised the Ilam Tamil diaspora, horrified at reports of brutality and fearful of the fate of their relatives.  However, initially the expatriate community found it difficult to navigate through the intricate post-war politics which remained rooted in the 68-year-old conflict, the daunting humanitarian challenge and the complexities of international involvement.  The lack of political and social capital worsened the problem.

The experiences of the last 29 years and the aftermath of the war have also re-established the identity of interests of the ‘Tamil-speaking people’: the North-East Tamils, Muslims and Upcountry Tamils. As they slowly begin to regroup and reorient their lives, they face formidable challenges in terms of resources, organization and the nature of government policy and regulations.  To face these challenges, the Tamil speaking people need to work cohesively and develop the ability to speak with one voice on core issues. Unfortunately, the complexities of the post-war situation have the effect of paralysing political dynamics within the Tamil community. In addition, the uneven development between the North-East, up-country and the South of  the island feeds into the fears underlying the mistrust. The concept of the ‘Tamil homeland’ has been thoroughly misunderstood and benefit that can accrue to the country by incorporation of the concept has been dismissed.

The poverty of economic and social capital has encouraged willing diaspora involvement in Ilankai and the diaspora has become an important political player.  If this positive intervention is to be maximised there needs to be greater discourse to develop understanding between diaspora groups and people working on the ground in Ilankai.  The expatriate community needs to be able to place Ilankai in an international context, develop sensitivities to ground complexities and begin to consider how it can develop trust across breaches in its own communities.  Whilst, there have always been different political parties and social groups within the Tamil community, they now need to work together to face the reality of the post war environment. In addition, in the context of anti-democratic tendencies and human rights violations, it is also necessary to work with Sinhalese political organizations and the international community against common threats.

To begin this process, a two-day conference of diaspora groups and people is being arranged.  A working document would be made available to facilitate identification of areas where further discussion is needed to bring the parties closer.

Conference Objectives:

  1. a) To facilitate dialogue within and across different diaspora groups;
  2. b) To develop a shared understanding of the international context within which they are working;
  3. c) To consider current challenges and opportunities in Ilankai;
  4. d) Mapping diaspora activities and identifying gaps and overlaps;
  5. e) To prepare a conference report for further action.

Kindly share the information with others whom you know would be relevant and interested in the conference

Thanking You,

Tamil Information Centre

Thulasi

Bridge End Close

Kingston Upon Thames KT2 6PZ

(United Kingdom)

Telephone:  +44 (0)20 8546 1560

E-mail:       admin.tic@sangu.org

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