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Thursday, June 20, 2024

Statement Calling for Recognition of, and Reparative Action for Malaiyaham 200

Image courtesy of The Hindu.

This year marks 200 years since the arrival of the Malaiyaha Tamils from Southern India to Sri Lanka. This anniversary has been commemorated by a number of civil society, religious and political entities, both from within and outside the community, including the ongoing “Maanbumigu Malaiyaha Makkal, Talaimannar to Matale Walk from July 27th to August 12th 2023. These commemorative events seek to remember the suffering the community has endured, and their struggles to claim a place as equal citizens in this country while calling for acknowledgement of their history and recognition of injustices. We, the undersigned, echo the calls of the Malaiyaham Tamil community to the Government of Sri Lanka, to take reparative action.

The systemic discrimination

The systemic discrimination of the Malaiyaha Tamils is an issue that has been disregarded within the national agenda for decades. Their treatment under British colonial rule and in post-independence Sri Lanka, including their disenfranchisement in 1948, created a system of inequality, deprivation and vulnerability. Although their labour powers are one of the highest earning economic sectors on which the economy of this country has been built, members of the community remain some of the most underprivileged and underserved by the State. Even as the State and the plantation industry point to the various assistance schemes provided over the years, the plantation sector continues to lag behind in terms of almost all socio-economic indicators. Addressing the high rates of poverty within this community in the current economic crisis is therefore not just a measure to provide relief, but is an issue of economic justice to right the wrongs of previous decades.

This year Sri Lanka marks a number of key anniversaries, including 75 years since independence and 40 years since Black July. This affords an opportunity for all citizens to reflect on the past and its impact, and to re-imagine a future built on democracy, equality, pluralism, equity and justice. For the State of Sri Lanka, as it discusses initiatives to address power-sharing and transitional justice, there is a responsibility to address grievances and take corrective action for its past actions and failures.

We, the undersigned, endorse the demands of the “Maanbumigu Malaiyaha Makkal, Talaimannar to Matale Walk.” Essentially, these demands represent a call for recognition of their distinct identity and affirmative action:

  • Acknowledgement of their histories, struggles and contributions
  • Recognition as a distinct community and constituent people of post-independent Sri Lanka
  • Affirmative action on education, health and social safety measures to achieve parity
  • A living wage, decent working standards, legal protection and equal pay for men and women workers
  • Land with secure tenure for housing and livelihoods
  • Equal use and parity of status for the Tamil language
  • Equal access to Government Services
  • Demarcation of plantation human settlements as new villages
  • Protection of domestic workers

While this list may not be comprehensive, it reflects some of the community’s long-standing demands, which we call to be implemented as steps towards acknowledgement and justice. We also call upon the leaders from the Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim communities to contribute to correcting these historical grievances.

Signatories

Individuals

  • R.A. Rameese
  • Sornalingam
  • Ambika Satkunanathan
  • Amila de Mel
  • Amita Arudpragasam
  • Angelica Chandrasekeran
  • Angeline Ondaatjie
  • Anithra Varia
  • Annouchka Wijesinghe
  • Anthony Vinoth
  • Anuratha Rajaretnam
  • Anushaya Collure
  • Arjuna Parakrama
  • Asker Khan
  • Gowthaman
  • Balasingham Skanthakumar
  • Bhavani Fonseka
  • Bishop Duleep de Chickera
  • Bishop Kenneth Fernando
  • Bishop Kumara Illangasinghe
  • Bisliya Bhutto
  • Ranitha Gnanarajah
  • Caryll Tozer
  • Chaminda Jayasekera
  • Chandra Devanarayana
  • Chandrika Gadiewasam
  • Channaka Jayasinghe
  • M.Dissanayake
  • Dilrukshi Handunnetti
  • Dilshani Madhuwanthi Pulle
  • Dinushika Dissanayake
  • C.S Jamunanantha
  • Dr Joe William
  • Mythri Jegathesan
  • Ramesh Ramasamy
  • Sanjana Hattotuwa
  • Dr Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu
  • Dr Sakuntala Kadirgamar
  • Ermiza Tegal
  • Isaac Daniel Dixon
  • Nandana Manatunga
  • Samuel J Ponniah
  • Godfrey Yogarajah
  • Hilary  Wirasinha
  • Ian Ferdinands
  • Indrajith Gamage
  • Iromi Perera
  • Jade Jayawardena
  • Jagath Siriwardana
  • Jansila Majeed
  • Jayanthi Kuru-Utumpala
  • Jeanne Samuel
  • Jehanki Anandha
  • Juwairiya Mohideen
  • Kandeepan
  • Nihal Ahamed
  • P. Chaminda Piyasekara
  • Kalani Subasinghe
  • Kalavathy Sinnaiya
  • Kirupairajah Gowriswaran
  • Koshala Lahiru Gunawardhana
  • Lalith Abeysinghe
  • N.F. Nifrasa
  • V. Nahomi
  • Madushi Imeshi Priyadarshani
  • Mahaluxmy Kurushanthan
  • Maithili Wilson
  • Malkanthi Perera
  • Manushika Kalhari
  • Mario Gomez
  • Marisa de Silva
  • Marisa Fernando
  • Maziyya Hilmy
  • Mirak Raheem
  • Mohammed Ikram
  • Mohammed Sali Janufa
  • Harsha Jayarathna
  • M.M. Nijah
  • Nagulan Nesiah
  • Nethmini Medawala
  • Nigel Nugawela
  • Nilshan Fonseka
  • Nirmal Ranjith Dewasiri
  • Niroshan Ekanayaka
  • M. Mujeebur Rahman
  • Pushpalatha
  • Paba Deshapriya
  • Peter Rezel
  • Philip Setunga
  • Puni Selvaratnam
  • Jeyaraj
  • Kalaiventhan
  • Radhika Coomaraswamy
  • Rathindra Kuruwita
  • Dr. Jayasri Peiris
  • R T B Abeysinghe
  • Roel Raymond
  • Ruwan Laknath Jayakody
  • A. Asker Khan
  • T. Ganeshalingam
  • Sabra Zahid
  • Sachitha N. Hewage
  • Sahan Isanka
  • Samal Vimukthi Hemachandra
  • Saman Seneviratne
  • Sandhya Samarawira
  • Sandun Thudugala
  • Sanjee Goonetilake
  • Sarath Athukorala
  • Sarath Rasnayake
  • Sathivel Balakrishnan
  • Saummya Amarasinghe
  • Selvaluxmy Kamalathas
  • Selvaraja Rajasegar
  • Shageetha Balachandran
  • Shamalee de Silva
  • Shivantha Rathnayake
  • Shreen Saroor
  • Siritunga Jayasuriya
  • Sitralega Maunaguru
  • Sonali Deraniyagala
  • Srinath Perera
  • Subathra Yogasingham
  • Suchith Abeyewickreme
  • Suhasha Sellayah
  • Sujeevan Tharmaratnam
  • Sulochana Peiris
  • Sunanda Deshapriya
  • Sunethra Bandaranaike
  • Suwanthi Weerasekara
  • Tharindu Uduwaragedara
  • Thurairajah Jeyakumar
  • Thusitha Siriwardana
  • Thyagi Ruwanpathirana
  • Tisaranee Gunasekara
  • Udayasegar
  • Weerasingham
  • Vanamali Galappatti
  • Vanie Simon
  • Visaka Dharmadasa
  • Vrai Cally Balthazaar
  • Wijayananda Kadurupokuna
  • Zaahid Aman
  • Zahira Ismail

Organizations

  • Affected Women’s Forum
  • Ampara District Alliance for Land Rights
    (ADALR)
  • Centre for Communication Training
  • Centre for Journalism and Education
  • Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Collective for Historical Dialogue & Memory
  • Committee for Protecting Rights of
    Prisoners
  • Community Development Foundation
  • Dabindu Collective Sri Lanka
  • Environment and Community Development
    Information Centre (ECDIC)
  • Hashtag Generation
  • Hearts Social Welfare Development Centre
  • Hill Country Mass Organization for Social
    Justice
  • Human Elevation Organization (HEO)
  • Human Rights Hub
  • Human Rights Office
  • International Centre for Ethnic Studies
  • Islamic Women’s Association for
    Research and Empowerment (IWARE)
  • Law & Society Trust (LST)
  • Mannar Women Development Federation
  • Maynmai – Tamil Feminist Formation
  • Muslim Women Development Trust –
    Puttalam
  • National Peace Council (NPC)
  • Navayugam Social Development Forum
  • ORHAN
  • Plantation Rural Education and
    Development Organisation
  • Rule of Law Forum
  • Rural Development Foundation
  • Savisthri National Women’s Movement
  • Search for Common Ground
  • Sirakukal Amayam
  • Suriya Women’s Development Centre
  • The Association of War Affected Women
  • True Vision RRO, Addalaichenai
  • Women for Justice and Peace in Sri Lanka
  • Women’s Action Network (WAN)

 

 

 

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