A Newspaper Published by World Institute for Asian Studies. Powered by WIAS, Vol. 8 No. 332

Thousands of lives would have been saved if Sri Lankan Tamil Diaspora were invited long time ago

By Henry Sathananthan from Australia

Twenty one of us went to Colombo to get help for our refugees (IDPs) in the North by invitation of the foreign minister, the Hon. Mr. Bogalagama. This was the first time a foreign minister invited the Tamil Diaspora for direct talks in a 2 day conference organized in Colombo, for which we are very thankful. The Government listened to us, one to one, each with diverse opinions and we initiated a constructive dialogue.

This should have been done a long time ago and would have saved thousands of lives. We opened the door for further negotiation for anyone who wants to go and we will facilitate this to the best of our ability.

The talks were cordial and various matters were discussed including the rehabilitation of the IDPs, devolution, discrimination of Tamils by successive governments, safety of the people in the war zone, resettlement, medical aid etc., focussing on the immediate future of the Tamils.

We also met four other ministers and their secretaries, including the Basil Rajapakse, who elaborated at length about the rehabilitation of the East, which was impressive. Dr.Tissa Vithana spoke to us about devolution which was most encouraging. We also met some Tamil politicians but not the TNA who were conspicuously absent, and asked them to help the people in the North. We believe that the TNA must go to their electorates and help the IDPs, which is their responsibility.

When I met the foreign minister in October 2008 in Melbourne with Dr.Nadesan, I requested him to open up the roads and allow our IDPs to go anywhere they like to settle, which he agreed to in Colombo among other concessions, which will be elaborated in our website in due course by other members of our team.

We represented ourselves as individuals members of the Diaspora and seek nothing in return. I represented my forefathers and my father, the late C.Arunachalam. We hardly knew each other before we met in Colombo.

Since our mission was primarily to help the IDPs, I undertook urgent medical needs for the IDPs and met the Secretary Health Ministry on 30th March 2009, in keeping with my expertise, which was agreed to at the conference. We will do our best to help these people who have nothing left, except maybe there homes or land.

The government has given them shelter, food and some medical aid and now it is our turn to help, irrespective of our political affiliations. The government cannot do this alone, since they have to look after, the soldiers, as well. The news this week has not been good. We have lost more innocent lives and a generation of youth on both sides in this conflict, our own children - a tragedy indeed! We may be able to stop this by further negotiation, if the Tamil Diaspora all over the world are willing to do so now.

Here are the stats:-

* 60,000 IDPs in government welfare camps – more coming day by day- many injured or maimed

* 60,000 or more trapped in 20 sq Km in the “safety zone” under LTTE control (Peace Council)

* 14 IDP camps in Vavuniya (see table attached) – one was visited by some of us

* 1 camp in Ambepussa – 39 youth who surrendered – we saw it and were impressed

Urgent needs from Health Ministry:-

* Anaesthetists

* Orthopaedics surgeons

* Psychologists

* Physiotherapists & Occupational therapists

* Drugs and bandages (drugs approved by Ministry – are cheaper in SL)

* Cheddikullam hospital – equipment and doctors – instruments cheaper in SL

* Upgrade Mannar and Vavuniya hospitals

* Nurses and Counsellors

* Tents for refugees and doctors in camps

Sri Lankan, Indian and French doctors are already there plus 14 NGOs - local and international

Doctors need to work at least 1 month – security, transport in SL and house? will be provided.

So I appeal to all doctors and paramedics in the Diaspora – Tamil, Sinhalese, Burgher, Muslim and also Australians. We have to work closely with the Health Ministry and Sri Lankan doctors

Other needs for IDPs. These will be addressed by other members of our group eventually

* Food and nutrition

* Beds and sheets

* Schools, teachers, books

* Computers and CDs, DVDs, PPTs

* Prostheses

• Toys

Yes we can :-

* Sponsor a student or orphan in a school

* Sponsor a family for rehabilitation

* Rehab a whole village – build homes

* Ask your relatives in SL to give a home to a family – anywhere in Sri Lanka

* Contribute funds to ICRC or camps, churches, temples or open your bank account in SL

I urge the Tamil Diaspora and all Sri Lankans to come forward in the darkest hour of our tormented history. Don’t take a back seat now, politics apart. The IDPs of all communities need your support, now or never. They have suffered long enough. They are our own people – not so fortunate as we all are. They have to be resettled and cannot live in camps for the rest of their lives. This is their hour of greatest need. Please visit for images of refugees and other information

We lived as one not so long ago, remember our school and university days and the free education we had? Lets work together to help our motherland and our peoples.

Arunachalam Henry Sathananthan Professor, Monash Immunolgy & Stem Cell Laboratories, Monash University

- ASian Tribune -

As war clouds dissipate over

As war clouds dissipate over our heads, a silver line seems to be shining over the horizon that would hopefully bring light, cheer, peace, harmony and prosperity to our beloved motherland.

The initiative by Arunachalam Henry Sathananthan of the Diaspora is commendable and he will be remembered by generations after us for his nobleness.

I agree this should have happened long ago. We should not blame any party for that now, as the right environment and chemistry didn't exist for such moves in the past.

Yes, now is the time. 'Arunachalam initiative' as I would like this to be remembered should involve all races and forces available to unite and heal the country and work together to develop and prosper.

This is a great beginning and we are with you Mr.Arunachalam Henry Sathananthan.

Gamini Lindagedera

Sinhalese and the Tamils

Sinhalese and the Tamils have let go of the past so long ago

Unfortunatly it is the petty politics and the rotten politicians who carried on this for all these years along with Prabakaran with the help of the NGO's and a section of the dispora.

Thanks you Mr. Henry Sathanathan for your insight and thoughtfullness towards this cause.
Yes this would have happened so long ago but never did any of us cared for this as War broke out not in our doorsteps but only in the Poormans who were unable to resist and manupulated for so long for all the petty ideologies that were dawn in the minds of killers and the politicians.

We as sri lankans should be ashamed irrespective of our race for letting the politicians play this game for so long for their endavours.

Aren't we all to blame as we collectivley voted for them don't we?

So let's fix this mess for the genereations to come even at this last stage .We were kept divided for so long and there were so many who gained enormously from this divisions.

Our stupidity has caused all this pain for our own people for so long and now people like you and me,and many others working across the sea in many parts of the world Thanks to the FREE EDUCATION that my beloved country gave to me can put and end to this and it should be NOW or NEVER.

There are times that when I work shoulder to shoulder with my counterparts from many nations thinks to myself If NOT for the Education that I received from Sri Lanka Where would I be?

A Tamil lady who is spending a fortune for her childrens university education told me that she realized how wrong she was about sri Lanka.She told me she had been ungreatful and she repent for it.

Can we deny this?

Let's build this bridge and move forward and also it is painful to note these pro-lTTE campaings are led by the younger generations of the Tamil communities .LTTE is abusing the youth one more time to breed hatred in the young minds again who have never seen sri lanka ever in their life time.

This has to be addressed by the adults befor it is too late

It is heartwarming to read

It is heartwarming to read the comments of Professor Sathanandan and we would hope from the bottom of our hearts that the hand of friendship offered by our Tamil brothers and sisters will be grabbed with both hands by the government and more importantly the Sinhala community.We have a long way to go to re-establish the level of trust we need to work together.We hope the first step has been taken on that long journey.The truth is that the Sinhalese and the Tamils will have to sort this mess out themselves.The middlemen have different agendas that would neither benefit the Tamils nor the Sinhalese.Lets hope this direct approach will take us a long way into each others trust and confidence.We can do wonders for Sri Lanka together."Ayubowan" to the Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora.

Congratulations to Henry

Congratulations to Henry Sathananthan and others for their courageous initiative to reach out to the government and help build bridges. We need more of these by all right thinking Tamils, Sinhalese and Muslims -- irrespective of where they live. I earnestly encourage Sinhalese Diaspora groups in Europe, Asia, Australian and North America to extend their hands in friendship and concern to one another to continue to build these important bridges. These grass roots efforts should not only be limited to people-to-government interactions but also from people-to-people. It is through these kinds of genunine efforts that a solution is bound to emerge.

A very positive response and

A very positive response and this is the need for the hour. "They have suffered long enough. They are our own people."

It may be easier to heal the

It may be easier to heal the physical wounds and provide basic necessities for the most. More difficult, if not impossible would be to heal the suspicions that divide the nation. The next suicide bombing and the one after that will seriously undermine efforts to unify the nation and knowing that. the LTTE can be depended on to prevail in that area.

This is why it is also important for leaders such as the writer to reach out to the people on both sides not to pass on the hatred to the next generation. It has already cost us almost two entire generations lost.

There is a grave need to strengthen the moderate voices and empower democratic and non-partisan activity if we are to prevent the nation's future being hijacked by the next set of extremists.