The Bracegirdle Incident: How an Australian Communist Ignited Ceylon’s Independence Struggle Alan Fewster Arcadia/Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2013 173 pages, $39.95 (pb) In 1937, Ceylon’s British Chief of Police reported that “it is clearly dangerous” to allow the Australian communist Mark Bracegirdle, to remain in the country “stirring up feelings against employers of labour and against the British Government”.
The Tamil National Alliance (TNA), the main party representing Tamils in Sri Lanka’s parliament, has selected 36 candidates to contest the Northern Provincial Council elections, to be held on September 21. Sri Lanka’s northern province, which is mainly inhabited by Tamils, has been under military rule since the defeat of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in 2009. The LTTE fought for nearly three decades for an independent Tamil state in the north and east of the island.
Towards the end of 2008, I joined thousands in Toronto to protest Israel’s attack on Gaza. At York University, where I was a student, we mobilised the campus to defend Palestinian rights. A few months later, bombs were falling on my own people ― in the predominantly Tamil Vanni region of northern Sri Lanka. And once again, we hit Toronto’s streets in protest. I realised then that even though our homelands are oceans apart, Palestinians and Tamils have much in common. Through the “war on terror”, the Israeli and Sri Lankan armies have waged war on civilian populations.
Protests by local people forced the abandonment of a plan to train Sri Lankan military officers at India’s Defence Services Staff College in the Nilgiris district of Tamil Nadu, a state in southern India. The Times of India said at least two towns in Nilgiris were shut down by a strike on June 24 in protest at the plan. The Indian government then offered to train the Sri Lankan officers elsewhere in India, but the Sri Lankan government turned the offer down.
More than 800 people rallied in Thellippazhai on April 29, a town in the north of the island of Sri Lanka. They marched towards the entrance of a nearby military zone. The Tamilnet website said the rally organisers had been warned by police that a march would not be permitted, but rally participants spontaneously decided to march regardless. They were blocked from reaching the military zone by the army and police. They were protesting against the confiscation of their land by the Sri Lankan army.
A mob led by Buddhist monks in Sri Lanka attacked a clothing shop owned by Muslims in March, setting fire to clothes while police looked on. The attack on the Fashion Bug shop in Pepiliyana, a suburb of Colombo, followed the spreading of a false rumour that a Sinhala Buddhist employee had been raped by a Muslim employee on the premises.
An armed squad stormed the main office of Uthayan, a Tamil language daily newspaper published in the city of Jaffna in Sri Lanka's north, At 4.45am on April 13. The attackers set fire to the printing presses and copies of the paper that were ready for distribution. The Tamilnet website said the squad was believed to be operated by Sri Lankan military intelligence. Jaffna, like other Tamil areas, is under military rule. The attack is the fourth this year against Uthayan, which is owned by Tamil National Alliance (TNA) member of parliament E. Saravanapavan.
The state assembly of the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu has passed a resolution calling for a United Nations-supervised referendum on independence for the Tamils of Sri Lanka. This follows a month-long wave of mass actions throughout Tamil Nadu, initiated by students but drawing in broader sections of the population. The Tamil Nadu protesters want the Indian government to raise a similar resolution at the United Nations. The students are planning to launch a civil disobedience campaign if the Indian government does not act on their demands.
Hundreds of people rallied outside parliament house in Canberra on March 13 to demand action for the war crimes of Sri Lankan President, Mahinda Rajapaksa. The rally was organised by Campaign for Tamil Justice, who are calling for an independent investigation into allegations by a UN panel of Sri Lankan military war crimes and crimes against humanity. Campaign spokesperson Trevor Grant said: “The UN Human Rights Commission is meeting right now on Sri Lanka and the word is that there will be another insipid resolution issued, with support from Australia.
The Sri Lankan army has demolished hundreds of houses inside its “high security zone” (HSZ) at Valikaamam on the Jaffna peninsula in the north of Sri Lanka, a February 11 Tamilnet report said. The houses belonged to Tamils who had been driven from their homes 20 years ago when the HSZ was established.