Sri Lankan refugees

BMJ 1997; 315 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.315.7100.122a (Published 12 July 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;315:122

***This correspondence is now closed.—Editor

Ethnic cleansing is in progress

  1. S Pothalingam, Retired surgeona
  1. a Geneva Lodge, 23 St Mary's Avenue, London E11 2NR
  2. b Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture, London NW5 3EJ
  3. c Coldharbour Surgery, London SE9 3JD
  4. d 80 Tyron Way, Sidcup, Kent DA14 6AZ

    Editor—Life is not easy for Tamils in Sri Lanka, as claimed by the 14 Sri Lankan doctors in their letter.1 Some of the authors' outrageous remarks need rebuttal. World media have no access to the Tamil areas; the international community is unaware of the extent to which Tamils are denied basic human rights in Sri Lanka.

    Since the British left Ceylon in 1948 the multiethnic island has degenerated into a kind of hell. The revival of ancient racial hatred and denial of equality of opportunity have destroyed national unity. Tamils in the plantation districts were disenfranchised and thousands of them were repatriated without consent to India. No other country in the modern world has done anything similar. The Sinhala-only Act deprived minorities of linguistic rights. Tamil members of parliament were expelled from the legislature, and Tamils have not had fair elections or democratic rights since then.

    Any passive Tamil dissent resulted in violence with the loss of thousands of Tamil lives and destruction of Tamil property. It was after 30 years of harassment and humiliation that Tamil militancy emerged. The current ethnic civil war is a reality. No one can condone the methods used by Tamil militants, especially the use of suicide squads. A more objectionable feature is the exercise of state terrorism against Tamils and indiscriminate aerial bombing and naval shelling of Tamil areas by government forces.

    The civil war can be ended only by reconciliation and working towards national unity. Sadly, the Colombo government is intent on crushing the Tamils militarily and eliminating any Tamil dissent. The burning by government forces of Jaffna's library and the military blockade of Tamil areas since 1983 indicate Colombo's intent. Ethnic cleansing is in progress; the situation in the north and east of Sri Lanka is …

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