SRI LANKA

Tamils abroad "living a collective depression"

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) are today facing extinction, cornered in the country's north-eastern jungle territory by the Sri Lankan regular forces. One of our Observers, a Tamil refugee in France, tells us of the torment endured by the community, which faces unending reports of mortalities. Read more...

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The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) are today facing extinction, cornered in the country's north-eastern jungle territory by the Sri Lankan regular forces. One of our Observers, a Tamil refugee in France, tells us of the torment endured by his community, which faces unending reports of casualties.

Civilians are the first victims of the military offensive. According to the Sri Lankan army, there are at most 70,000 people left in the narrow band of territory still disputed by the two camps. Humanitarian organisations put the number at 200,000. The Tamil rebels says that between 50 and 100 civilians are being killed each day. The Tigers say they are ready to accept a ceasefire, but without giving up their arms. The government, who's looking to obliterate the possibility of a counter-offensive, rejected the EU's call for a ceasefire and continues to pound the guerrilla.

Counter propaganda from the government

This report shows a factory that supposedly manufactures LTTE fighter planes. The country's television channels are all on the government's side. By showing these images they want to show the Sinhalese and the Tamils that the Tigers are in their dying days. We can see clearly what a Tiger arms factory looks like in this video. Everyone knows they don't have much military strength. But once again I don't believe that the military offensive will stop the Tiger rebels. At least eight Tamils living abroad have set fire to themselves, showing that the revolt will continue."  

Tamil propaganda...

According to the caption, these images were shot on 18 February after the army drew fire. They were published by a Tamil website, but where the footage comes from is unknown. 

We don't know where these videos came from but I think they were shot by LTTE militants. Obviously it's propaganda. But to see these devastated villages and the corpses... it reminds us of what we've all been through. And it certainly strengthens nationalist feelings.

We're not happy with the foreign press because they're not stressing the civilian deaths enough. The problem is that journalists are embedded with the army, who only show them what they want to be seen. Here we receive tonnes of images and information from Tamil sites. In both cases it's propaganda. But what is sure, is that civilians are being massacred right at this moment. This is not a case of ‘civilian casualties' - otherwise, why would the hospitals and schools be purposefully targeted?" 

"Tamils abroad are living a kind of collective depression"

Kumar is a Tamil refugee living in France.

Tamils abroad are living a kind of collective depression. Some are losing it and talking about getting back home, even if they know they can't. Every time somebody dies in the country, their family abroad holds a wake. I've been to four this month. On top of the sadness, we feel humiliated. Even if you're not a supporter of the Tigers, we're proud of their victories. Tamil people are the regular target of scorn in Sri Lanka. Our language isn't recognised by the state and we're not considered equal to the Sinhalese. My people have been in Sri Lanka for 200,000 years, but we don't feel Sri Lankan and we don't recognise the president as our own.

It's very difficult to see the LTTE defeated. But if the government thinks that this conflict, which has been going on for 25 years, will come to an end with a military feat, then they're mistaken. You only need to look at what happened in Iraq. The problems have political roots and it's only through politics that they can be rectified."