The Tamil Minority in Sri Lanka
Download audio file (tamilminority.mp3)
Tamil Man: Open this one. (the digital recorder; “turn it on”)
Tamil Man: Very important.
Tamil Man: The Sri Lankan Government; what they are doing now. They understand that the Tamil people; the problem comes from the university.
Tamil Man: And after that they (the Tamils) want to… they ask for freedom for (the) Tamil people and (they want to be put in the) same category (as others who get a good result at the university) and (be) take(n) them (into employment if they have the same) qualification..(the people who get a) good pass out.
Reporter: Good pass. (get a) good pass.
Tamil Man: Ok. Take them to job. (Give them a job)
Tamil Man: The Sri Lankan government; they don’t want to do that.
Reporter: They don’t want Tamil people. They only want Singhalese people.
Tamil Man: Singhalese people (and they) take them to be doctors and engineers.
Tamil Man: And the Tamil people study (and do well) and after that (there are) no job(s) and after they are going to the terrorists and joining and fighting with the government.
Tamil Man: And after they ask them to give the freedom.
Tamil Man: And they don’t give the freedom. And after in our Tamil villages everywhere, in the courts, high court(s) and police station everywhere they are writing (things are written in) Sinhalese language.
Tamil Man: No have (there is no) Tamil language.
Tamil Man: Because (in) Tamil area(s) poor people; they are not educated (in) Sinhalese.
Reporter: M-hm. They don’t speak Singhalese.
Tamil Man: Sinhala. Sinhala.
Reporter: They don’t speak Singhalese. They can’t read.
Tamil Man: They can’t read. How (how can they) go to the courts and the police station (when everything is written in) the Sinhalese language?
Reporter: So they have no rights.
Tamil Man: In government offices everywhere in Jaffna and Betigala eastern and northern side all Tamil people; all the Tamil people people (who go to)the courts; all (in) the Singhalese language
Tamil Man: They ask them ; Tamil people ask them: Ok you make this: … same also like us…
Reporter: Bilingual. Have a bilingual system.
Tamil Man: (a) system same (like they have in) India. They don’t want to give (it).
Reporter: It sounds a little bit similar like in Malaysia …you have… there are many Indian people living in Malaysia but in the university if…
Tamil Man: They have free language.
Reporter: But I think in Malaysia the Malay people; they can easily get a good position…
Tamil Man: Yeah.
Reporter: But the Indians, they…There is discrimination against the Indians.
Tamil Man: No. In Malaysia they do same this: Tamil people can learn Tamil. Tamil language. No problem. In courts too Tamil people have Tamil translators but in Sri Lanka no have (there are no) translator(s). No have something like that. (There is nothing like that.) If we go into a police station we must speak to a Singhalese man.
Tamil Man: But we must translate into Singhalese. Someone we have to bring them and talk to them.
Reporter: How many Tamil people can speak Singhalese?
Tamil Man: Very few people.
Reporter: Very few.
Tamil Man: Only Colombo City..a few.
Reporter: But you are bilingual. You can speak both languages.
Tamil Man: Because I am working in a shop. I can speak Singhalese language.
After that (and I also want to tell you). Four or five people. After they came to co-op (co-opt?) people (who) joined.
Reporter: Coop. Co-operative?
Tamil Man: Were co -opted (persuaded to join) the terrorists the LTTE … take up arms ..against the government…up to now they are after freedom not separation but the government says: they don’t want to separate. They don’t want to give anything. Ok. They want to kill all the Tamil people. This is them (their) idea. Last month..until now about last six months they have kidnapped all people in Colombo City and killed…
Tamil Man: Kidnapped and killed!
Reporter: How many people?
Tamil Man: Now already more than three thousand people.
Reporter: Murdered by the police and the government..
Tamil Man: Murdered by the government… has a special group… special arms group.
Reporter: What is the name of the group?
Tamil Man: The group is take(n) from the STF army.
Tamil Man: Not..without uniform.
Tamil Man: This is from the brother of our president? And his group.
Reporter: He is the commander of the group.
Tamil Man: Group. Yes. Minister.
Reporter: Mhm. He is a political..he is a government minister
Tamil Man: He is a government minister. And they have the group. This group comes at night in van without number-plate and come to pick up the businessmen and takes them to a place very far away. Five body without head. Three bodies without heads. Some people come out (escape). They pay big money.
Tamil Man: About hundred thousand US dollar. Two hundred thousand US dollar.
Tamil Man: (if you ) pay (you) can (get) out; (if you do) not pay, (you) cannot (get) out. Now already die about three thousand people.
Reporter: Wow! Since when?
Tamil Man: I bring the newspaper. I have the photo with the newspaper. Because I have the newspaper already. Missing. Missing. Missing all. Only about five per cent people come back. Return home.
Tamil Man: Murdered. This is going on now in Colombo City. Because now the planning of the government; them idea (their idea): This is the Sri Lankan Tamil businessmen. All business people; they want to cut. Finished
Tamil Man: Because the reason these business people. Because these businessmen one day they can help the LTTE.
Reporter: Elderly people?
Tamil Man: LTTE (emphatically)
(interruption from waiter)
Tamil Man: Ok. Thank you. (to waiter) Ok.
Tamil Man: They worry about. Now they plan can have success. Because every businessman (has been) killed. Nobody helps the Tamil Elam people.
Reporter: LTTE is the Tamil Tigers?
Tamil Man: Tamil Tigers.
Tamil Man: Yeah.
Reporter: What does it stand for?
Tamil Man: Liberation Tamil Tiger Elam.
Reporter: Elam. What does “Elam” mean?
Tamil Man: “Elam” means “separate” (?) Something like Tamil Nadu. Something like that. This is the thing now that is happening. All business people (have) now run away. Escaped. Escaped from Sri Lanka and gone to India or somewhere like that.
Tamil Man: Colombo Tamil businessmen.
Reporter: Your family is still there?
Tamil Man: Still there. I am also have problem. I am also afraid to stay there. I have shop have everything. Because they take at least who have the money in the bank who have the property. They check from the bank. Check from the…
Reporter: So this is genocide.
Tamil Man: Yeah.
Reporter: They are doing…perpetrating genocide.
Tamil Man: Yeah. This is happening now.
Reporter: Now. Right now. As we are talking. This is happening now.
Tamil Man: Yeah. They check from the bank and then they check from the vehicle.
Reporter: They check the bank records.
Tamil Man: Records. And vehicle department …department.. Vehicle. When you buy some car ..
Tamil Man: And the license.
Tamil Man: You take the license for car right?
Tamil Man: Who buy (bought) the (a) car today?
Tamil Man: Who buy (bought) the (a) pickup?
Tamil Man: (They) check the list from the vehicle department.
Reporter: From the shops?
Tamil Man: From the..vehicle..When you go in to buy the (a) vehicle, you take (get) the (a) license.
Reporter: I don’t know this word.
Tamil Man: When you buy car…
Tamil Man: No no. If you buy the car…or motorcycle.
Tamil Man: You have to go in to register…
Reporter: The government registration office?
Tamil Man: Yeah ok from that!
Reporter: Motor vehicle registration. Ok.
Tamil Man: Yeah!
Reporter: Right. Ok so they identify the people who have money …
Tamil Man: Yeah.
Reporter: And they kidnap them.
Tamil Man: Kidnap them.
Reporter: And if they pay, they let them go…
Tamil Man: Yeah.
Reporter: But if they don’t pay, they murder them. They cut their heads off.
Tamil Man: Yeah. Maybe..And they bring maybe after fifty kilometre…thirty kilometre ,they bring and they put the body everywhere.
Tamil Man: ……Now the people try to go to another country. Sell the property. Everything. Many people I know he also have two three car. He have the ? also…..He now already everything sell. He have to escape. Now he want to go somewhere. Australia something (somewhere) like that. But he ask me also. Maybe I told him you come to open some shop in Malaysia. He have money. No problem.
Tamil Man: But (even) if we have money we cannot do anything
Tamil Man: Where do we go? That is the problem. Even me. You know?
Reporter: How can you live? How can you?
Tamil Man: I am stay my home. You know? This is real fact. You know? I am stay my home. I am open behind side my house. Maybe somebody knock the door. Ask me. I want to run away. Every day I sleep my home same this.
Reporter: You never leave your house. You stay home every day.
Tamil Man: I am stay home but I open behind side my house. Behind side have one door. I open and keep it. Behind side have one door. Back home. (There is one door at the back of my house.)
Reporter: Back door. Yeah.
Tamil Man: They come mostly at night time. Six o’clock. Seven o’clock. Eight o’clock.
Tamil Man: This time come to pick up the men I stay at my home. They say I want to enquire you. They come. (and they say) “We come from the CID.”
Reporter: CID. That is Criminal Investigation Department?
Tamil Man: Yeah. Yeah. Same this they speak. (This is what they say.) But not real not real.
Reporter: It is not true.
Tamil Man: Not true. And then take him and then go.
Tamil Man: Some people they sit down and look TV and they put the gun and take them.
Reporter: It is disgusting.
Tamil Man: Yeah. Something like that.
Reporter: It is disgusting.
Tamil Man: But van no have number plates.
Tamil Man: After we go to complain (at the) police station but nobody know. After they say missing missing missing. Where is this human rights?
Tamil Man: Where is the human rights in our country? Nothing. (There is none.)
What he do ..(what he is doing) his name is (person’s name) He buy five aeroplanes. Take the money from the Tamil people business men take money same this. Twenty thousand … hundred thousand US dollar take. You know? He buy five aeroplanes. Now have the prime minister five aeroplanes running now. (The Prime Minister has five aeroplanes running now.) Mihini Aer. Mihin Air. New aeroplanes.
Reporter: Mihin Aer? Ah it is the name of the company?
Tamil Man: Company.
Tamil Man: Five aeroplanes. How did he get this money?
Reporter: from the Tamil people?
Tamil Man: Kidnapping. Now he has the five aeroplane coming. From Thailand coming also. Very cheap ticket. Sri Lankan Airways and Mihin Air also and then Thai Airways. And Mihin Air belongs to the Prime Minister’s brother. President’s brother. (person’s name) is the leader of this.
Tamil Man: But who asks him? Nobody cannot ask. Nobody cannot talk. Because everybody is afraid. How to?