Sri Lankan Tamils Jaffna Exodus 24 years ago!

24 years ago today in Jaffna

The exodus out of Jaffna peninsula occurred on this day in 1995 when over half a million people as Tamils demonstrated they were prepared to face any form of suffering to be independent than subjecting to domination by the state. Thereafter when hostilities were halted after six months many did return, only to face further hostilities as war resumed months later. When war ended in 2009 and many more returned back to their own land; later these people affected by the atrocities committed on them 24 years earlier are still insecure living in the Northern Province with negative peace lasting most of the decade to 2019.

Many had fled away from the province, while many more perished in the civil-war that prolonged for over three decades, recorded as the most destructive in the history of the island nation. With a drastically reduced population of 1,143,000, there are now 846,833 registered voters that form a small voting bloc. Most of whom live in misery for the war had dealt blow after blow to these disadvantaged families, with many still living in a partially built home on their land returned by the security forces, with thoughts on raising funds to complete their home. Many others grapple with poverty and are still continuing their search of a missing family member.  As they are yet to receive any answers from the authorities, these are just commonly heard stories in the once war torn northern region where many families continue living with their grievances.

Whereas in Sri Lanka people eligible to vote are made up of all ethnic and religious communities; yet it is the majority community forming the largest voting bloc that produce rulers. Regrettably as most rulers ignorant of nation building get corrupted to prosper in power abandoning law and order as the result the nation is heavily in debts to many nations and has lost its national security for ever. Others in this bloc being underprivileged get bribed easily for the power hungry politicians to continue serving themselves than work for the people who voted them in. For seven decades the largest voting bloc has continued electing politicians from the majority community as legislators denying a holistic rule in the country. While the small voting blocs made up of minorities similar to the insecure Tamils in the north are living with all the atrocities committed by successive rulers elected by the largest voting bloc.

The votes from north are likely to have a bearing at the upcoming polls as it did earlier at the 2015 Presidential election; where the common candidate with the swan symbol backed by the United National Front (UNF) and the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) secured a landslide victory in the province with 74.42% majority votes from Jaffna district and 78.47% majority from Vanni electoral districts to reject the rule of former President. Thereafter during the four years passed the TNA gave unconditional support to the government, as negative peace continued on the lives of these people in North constitute the vote bank of this alliance. TNA having failed to resolve the grievances, a promise made to them prior to the 2015 General Election; the upcoming Presidential Election seems far from their troubled minds of these people wishing to move on in life having struggled during the long drawn conflict. TNA is well aware of the reality that the government was due to infighting ended up as a minority government in parliament hindered it from resolving the issues of its people.

It is true that north has been revitalised after the end of the war in 2009, then government did develop the infrastructure of the province though it was done at a heavy cost due to high level of corruption including a luxurious presidential palace in the province not put to use as yet. The present government began much needed refurbishment of the air and sea ports, which were all engulfed into the high security zone for use by the security forces during the war that had prevented civilian use of these facilities. Few factories have mushroomed after the war ended in the five districts in the north to generate few thousand direct jobs and indirect jobs.

However, there still remain many problems for the Tamil people, in particular those at the grass root level due to many poorly conceived efforts and failure by the corrupt state administration to introduce solutions to resolve many burning issues of the people living in the region. Thus TNA fear of losing support of the people is very cautious in requesting its people to support the candidate with the swan symbol backed by the New Democratic Front (DNF) made up of many political parties of the same government that they supported unconditionally in parliament.

With the Presidential Election few weeks away, there are signs of a general disinterest in the upcoming election in the North, as the people are still to get over the devastations war caused and disapproval over lack of resolutions of issues that caused. Thus, to these people making song and dance at election meetings have become a bygone era act, as is not the style of the post war generation. As the latest government figures confirm that Mullaitivu and Kilinochchi districts in the province having the lowest household income in the country to give the province as a whole a rating of 7.7 percent in the country’s poverty index, while the National average is 4.1 percent. With unemployment on the rise, struggle for land and search for missing persons continuing in the region, weigh heavily on the minds of the people in north, still they are expected to come out to the polling stations on November 16 to cast their vote. However, there is a certain disappointment with the people, because, they gave a protest vote overwhelmingly for a regime change in 2015; yet five-years later, they are again being asked to make a choice from two front runners than somebody who stands for their aspirations.

As employment seems to be a key factor in the upcoming election, with many rehabilitated youth disillusioned; no matter who comes to power the Tamil community will no doubt continue to suffer and struggle to make a living. The Tamils have a choice to elect from the two leading candidates a genuine person who at least ensure them a better life than experienced in the past decade. Their opinion could only be swayed by the TNA, who must not flinch from their responsibility as sole representatives of the Tamils self-claimed by them over decade of negative peace. With that late but correct request coming from the TNA, perhaps the majority in north will of the two main candidates likely to vote for the candidate with the Swan symbol.