At the Start of New Presidency, Tamils for Obama Hope for New Policy Toward Tamil Eelam

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Tamils in the U.S. who supported Obama and Clinton now hope to call the administration's attention to the work of ending the Sri Lankan civil war and creating Tamil Eelam.

With the inauguration of the new presidential administration, Tamils in the U.S. hope to see refinements of policies that affect Tamils in Sri Lanka. In particular, Tamils hope that the Obama administration will take forceful steps to end the genocidal civil war of which the Tamils are victims and advance the cause of Tamil safety and rights, perhaps leading to the foundation of Tamil Eelam (Tamil Homeland, in the Tamil language).

Tamils for Obama, a political action group that supported Obama for president, urges President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton to make this one of their top priorities. Whether Tamil Eelam exists as federated state, joined with Singhalese Sri Lanka, or as a sovereign nation remains to be worked out by the administration and Tamils world-wide.

The civil war in Sri Lanka began almost the day the country got independence from Great Britain in 1948. It took the forms of displacement of Tamils from broad areas in Sri Lanka, nation-wide government-sponsored anti-Tamil pogroms, and both military and paramilitary aggression against the Tamil population. After 30 years of peaceful Tamil protest against oppression, the armed resistance of the LTTE, or Tamil Tigers, arose only in the early 1980s.

The war against the Tamils continues today with ethnic cleansing using cluster bombs, artillery attacks, and army units against Tamil refugees and civilian areas. These attacks all appear to be aimed at terrorizing and driving the Tamils out of Sri Lanka. The Tamils, including Tamils for Obama, believe that they can only be safe in a sovereign nation.

There are precedents, the Tamils point out. The U.N. supported the secession of Christians in Indonesia to form their own state of East Timor. The U.S. and NATO assisted in the creation of the independent state of Kosovo.

Previous U.S. policy, as explained by Ambassador to Sri Lanka Robert Blake, regards the Tamils as just one of many troublesome Sri Lankan minorities. The U.S. has treated the genocide as an internal Sri Lankan concern. The Sri Lankan government has worked diligently to have the Tamil resistance included in the U.S. War on Terror, and the U.S. has complied.

The "hands off" policy regarding Sri Lankan Tamils is one that the international Tamil community hopes will be changed. Tamils conclude that the civil war can only end with the Sri Lankan government completing the genocide or with the creation of a separate Tamil state.

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 bearing the brunt of a civil war they regard as genocide. One third of the Tamil population has fled the island and formed a substantial diaspora overseas. 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

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