Opinion Poll: Tamils Want Separation, Urge New U.S. Administration to Send Peace Envoy to Sri Lanka Immediately

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Poll shows Tamils internationally favor separation from Sri Lanka as solution to the genocidal civil war, and want quick U.S. support.

This poll was conducted world-wide among Tamils. The result may surprise anyone who listened to the many international policy makers who stated that Tamils wanted to live in a united Sri Lanka, and did not support any independence movement. These policy makers include some leaders from the E.U., Japan, India and the current Bush administration.

Tamils want separation, the poll shows: separation was supported by about 90% of the respondents. They want the Obama administration to send former senator George Mitchell (Bill Clinton, Richard Holbrooke, Colin Powell, and Condoleezza Rice were the other choices) to stop the genocidal war and initiate the process of separation.

Tamils who support separation were asked which of several models they wanted the new Tamil state to follow. The models were the Christians in Indonesia, who got their own state in East Timor; Muslims in the former Yugoslavia, who gained safety in the new Bosnian federation; Albanians in Kosovo, who escaped ethnic cleansing in independent Kosovo; and Slovaks in Czechoslovakia, who withdrew and formed their own country of Slovakia. A majority (55%) favored the East Timor model of independence through a UN-sponsored referendum. Kosovo was second with 19%.

If separation is not possible, about 83% of Tamils who participated in the opinion poll said they wanted a federation in which the Tamils would have all the powers of a separate state, including the power to secede. This was taken by the pollsters as a way of saying that they want a confederation.

Once they chose confederation, Tamils were offered four models of current successful confederations, and asked which model best suited Tamils in Sri Lanka. The models were Quebec in Canada, the Bosniak-Croat Federation in the former Yugoslavia, Wales and Scotland in the U.K., and Tamil Nadu in India. The poll showed that Tamils prefer the Quebec model.

In the poll, Tamils were asked "What should the Obama administration do in Sri Lanka?" There were five possible answers. Just over 76% of the respondents said they wanted the Obama administration to persuade the UN to have a referendum regarding partition separating the predominantly Tamil northeast of Sri Lanka from the rest of the country. There is precedent for this: the U.N. held such a referendum regarding East Timor before it gained independence. (Another question, below, deals with who participates in the referendum.)

The other four listed responses were: forcibly to bring representatives of the two sides to the U.S. and compel them to agree to a reasonable solution (7%); send U.N. peace-keeping troops to separate the combatants (9%); initiate a U.S. humanitarian intervention to save the Tamils from the genocidal war (6%); and ignore the problem and let it play out by itself (1%).

Who should be allowed to participate in the referendum if and when it happens? A majority (51%) said Tamils living in Sri Lanka and those living abroad who fled to get away from the civil war , and thirty-nine percent (39%) said only the Tamils still living in the northeast of Sri Lanka should be allowed to vote. Smaller numbers said Tamils living in the island of Sri Lanka (4%), or all persons living in the northeast of Sri Lanka, Tamil or otherwise (6%) should be enfranchised.

When should the Obama administration take action? Eighty-eight percent (88%) of poll respondents said that the new administration should take action immediately. Seven percent (7%) said within one hundred days, five percent (5%) said in his first year, and only one percent (1%) said "Don't take action".

For the question, 'How did they categorize the war in Sri Lanka?' Most said the war is genocidal (90%), and smaller numbers said the war is a battle for Sovereignty by oppressed Tamils (7%), a radical revolt by the Tamil Tigers (1%), or some other variety of civil war (2%).

The poll was conducted by Tamils for Obama. It was conducted through the internet from December 10, 2008 to December 31, 2008. Total participation was 8,249 individuals. Overseas Tamils, those who were uprooted by the genocidal war, participated from over 90 countries. The largest number of responses were from Canada (28%), followed by the United Kingdom (17%), Australia (9%), India (8%) and the U.S (7%), a very representative distribution of the diaspora. About ten percent (10%) of the respondents were Tamils in Sri Lanka.    

Requests for participation in the poll were sent out through all available means of contacting the Tamil diaspora and Tamils on the island, including email lists, newspapers, websites, blogs and paid advertisements. Tamils for Obama believes the response to be representative, taking into account the distribution of internet connectivity, the complexity of the polling methods, the global dispersion of the Tamil population, and concerns many Tamils have for their safety in expressing any political opinion in public. In addition to sampling error, question wording can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

The pollster, Tamils for Obama, stated that the raw data of the poll is available for verification by any interested party.

More details of the poll results can be seen at http://www.tamilsforobama.com/poll/result.asp

Tamils are an ethnic group living mainly in the northeast of Sri Lanka and southern India. They are a minority population in Sri Lanka, and are currently engaged in a civil war they regard as genocide. Tamils for Obama is comprised of Tamils who have settled in the U.S., or who were born in the U.S.

To contact the group, call at (617) 765- 4394 and speak to or leave a message for the Communication Director, Tamils for Obama.

Tamils for Obama
http://www.TamilsForObama.com

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