Editor’s Note: Amrita Chandradas is a documentary photographer currently based in Singapore and working across Southeast Asia. In 2014 she won the prestigious “Top 30 Under 30” award by Magnum Photographs. In this exclusive article for Fox & Hedgehog she recounts the story of a trip to Sri Lanka to document the aftereffects of the civil war. You can view more of Amrita’s work on her website.
Sri Lanka—known for her pristine beaches, lush wild jungles, and exotic food—has successfully concealed a dark past of civil unrest and political instability for the last three decades. She is an island divided by twenty-six years of civil war between the Sri Lankan Military and the Tamil Tigers, one of the largest rebel guerrilla forces in the world. The Tigers, otherwise known as LTTE, are infamous for inventing suicide belts; they used women in suicide attacks and successfully assassinated two international political leaders. Sri Lankan society plunged into segregation during the year 1948 when she achieved her independence from the British.
A story on Burmese Tamil refugees who were displaced to Manipur, India, following a coup in the 1960s that led to race riots against ‘Indians’. Hundreds of Jaffna Tamils, who were brought to Burma as part of the British colonial apparatus, were also affected and returned to Ceylon in the wake of the violence. They are remembered as Rangun Tamils.
« When they reached the border crossing, Burmese soldiers prevented them from entering the country. The Tamils settled in Moreh hoping one day to return to their homeland – but those dreams have never been fulfilled. »
6,151 Candidates from 21 registered political parties and 201 independent groups are contesting the Sri Lankan Parliamentary elections scheduled for August 17th 2015. Of these 3, 653 are from the 21 parties and 2,498 from independent groups. Predictably the spotlight in general has been on the major political parties both nationally and regionally in g. However a particular group of independents contesting in the north has also attracted much attention. This is because the group comprises former members of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
Ordinary folk such as S. Sivanesan, a teacher in a government school in Jaffna, says, “We will vote for candidates who are willing to speak on behalf of the Tamil people and their causes. They should be able to help people affected by the war and not able to resettle in their respective land. That’s our immediate need. It has to be done.”
Shunned, destitute and pushed into prostitution in some cases, Sri Lanka’s Tamil widows have returned to northern Jaffna since the end of the separatist war only to discover they are not welcome even in their homeland.
Colombo: The Sri Lankan Army has said there was no military administration in Tamil-dominated Jaffna and denied allegations by Chief Minister of the Northern Province C V Wigneswaran that more troops had been deployed in the area after a riot in mid-May.
In April this year, when Rajani’s colleague Rajan Hoole was about to launch his book ‘Palmyra Fallen: From Rajani to war’s end’ and tried holding a discussion around it, a similar response came from the University of Jaffna, where Rajani was heading the Anatomy department until she was gunned down, yet again bringing to focus the concern many share about the lack of space in the University.
JAFFNA, Sri Lanka, Jun 26 2015 (IPS) – It is an oasis from the scorching heat outside. The three-storey, centrally air-conditioned Cargills Square, a major mall in Sri Lanka’s northern Jaffna town, is the latest hangout spot in the former warzone, where everyone from teenagers to families to off-duty military officers converge.
A Sri Lankan soldier was on Thursday sentenced to death for killing eight Tamil civilians, including four minors, by slitting their throats in Jaffna nearly 15 years ago, in a rare case of the military being held to account for its actions.
ELLIPALLAI, 19 June 2015 (IRIN) – As a young girl, Kasthuri Udayakumaran’s grandmother would tell her of a house where birds chirped as the morning sunlight streamed through the thick foliage of a peaceful village. It seemed like a fantasy, a world away from her home in the northern city of Jaffna where soldiers manned checkpoints and claymore mines exploded on dusty streets.
Jaffna is the capital city of the Northern Province, and it is also the administrative headquarters of the Jaffna District located on a peninsula of the same name. At one time Jaffna’s population exceeded 85,000. However, by today the number has been reduced to 60,030 and the total population in the Northern Province, which once showed as 734,000 (1981) at present stands at 614,428, according to the Jaffna District Secretariat.
After the end of the war against the LTTE in May 2009, the government began its mega development programs in the Northern Province and the Security Forces also left most of the lands which they were using during the operation period.
As many as 2,175 internally displaced Tamil families in Jaffna and Trincomalee districts are set to receive a financial assistance of Rs. 38,000 per family for resettlement with the Cabinet of the Sri Lankan government sanctioning Rs. 16 crore Lankan.