Poll Shows that Tamils, Feeling Alone in the World, Embrace the Tigers

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A poll conducted by Tamils for Obama and answered by 12,300 Tamils world-wide shows that as Sri Lankan government forces close in on Tamils in the Vanni, a region in northern Sri Lanka, Tamils expect no help from the outside world and cling to the Tamil Tigers as their only protectors.

A poll conducted by Tamils for Obama shows Tamils all over the world see no help coming from outsiders to rescue the hundreds of thousands of Tamil civilians encircled in the war zone in the Vanni in northern Sri Lanka.

The poll was conducted from March 18 to March 31, 2009 and was answered by over 12,300 Tamils in over 100 countries.

The poll also suggested that with Tamils expecting no help from the outside world, they are holding more tightly than ever to the Tamil Tigers. The Tamils don't trust the "welfare camps" run by the Sri Lankan government, and would prefer to be ruled by a post-war government run by the Tamil Tigers.

The poll's first question reads "If the outside world (UN or other countries) chooses to save the Tamils and sends a military force to do this, what would you favor doing for the hundreds of thousands of Tamils encircled by Sri Lankan troops in Vanni?"

Overwhelmingly (85%) the Tamils stated that they wanted the outside force to protect the Tamils in a Vanni safe zone and compel the Sri Lankan government to allow humanitarian organizations access to the Vanni until a cease-fire is achieved.

Smaller numbers chose removing civilians to camps run by the outsiders (12%), removing them to camps run by the Sri Lankan government (1%), or doing nothing (less than 1%).

When asked if the world hopes for a constitutional rather than a military conclusion to the Sri Lankan civil war (Question 2), the Tamil respondents were more divided. The largest number (44%) thought the world favored a military solution in which the Sri Lankan government crushed the Tigers and let the world stay out of Sri Lanka. About a quarter (23%) thought the world wanted a constitutional resolution to Sri Lanka's civil war, but would be unwilling to take any actions to bring it about. About a tenth (10%) thought that the rest of the world would only be willing to send humanitarian help, and roughly a fifth (23%) thought that the world wanted Tamils to have their own country and were willing to contribute real help.

Question 3 was simple and direct: Do you believe the world community will take any strong action to end the war immediately? More than half (62%) of respondents said no.

When asked in the next question how they would describe the Tamil Tigers, most of the respondents (85%) chose to describe them as "a legitimate resistance organization protecting Tamils from state terrorism and genocide." Fewer (13%) described the Tigers as "a legitimate resistance organization that sometimes uses regrettable tactics to advance their cause." Less than one percent (0.8%) said "They discredit Tamils everywhere with their actions" or "They are radical trouble makers who would be outlaws in any country" (0.38%).

Question 5 stated "The U.S. and other countries keep lists of countries and organizations that practice and support terrorism. Should the Tamil Tigers be included in these lists?" Most of the respondents (88%) said they should not, that "The Tigers are a legitimate defensive force that is using reasonable military means to protect their people." About ten percent (10%) said the Tigers should not be on other countries' terrorist lists because "Their tactics have been aimed mostly at government and military targets within Sri Lanka." Fewer respondents (1%) said the Tigers were aggressive and violent and unpopular abroad but were responding to state terrorism. The smallest number (0.33%) agreed that they were terrorists.

The Tamils have a low opinion of Sri Lanka's "welfare camps." Most (78%) called them "death camps meant to hold and destroy the Tamils who are in them." Another 20% said "They are prison camps where Tamil inmates are abused and mistreated." Much smaller numbers said "They are probably unhealthy but otherwise safe" (1 %) or "They are a safe place to shelter and heal Tamil civilians" (0.45%).

The last question asks what Tamils thought should be the Tamil Tigers' role in Tamil Eelam, if and when Tamil Eelam is formed. The majority 67% felt that the Tigers should rule because "They promised to have a democratic, pluralistic society and to put the war behind them." Other respondents felt the Tigers should rule because they led the revolution (11%), that "They should disband their military organization and become a regular political party that competes for office in a democratic system" (15%), or "They should become the non-political armed forces of the new country" (6%).

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.

Tamils for Obama acknowledges that their polling method creates sampling errors. For instance, polling over the internet automatically excludes as respondents people who don't own computers. They say they have tried to avoid any bias resulting from the wording of questions or the order in which the questions were presented.

Each poll respondent is sent a unique validation code by email which he/she submits along with his/her answers to this poll. This prevents any respondent answering the poll more than once.

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

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Communication Director