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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2642

Sri Lankan killed up to 2002 is as high as 338,000 - University of Washington and Harvard Medical school studies

Chennai, 07 July, (Asiantribune.com): Independent studies performed by the University of Washington and Harvard Medical School, indicates that at least 215,000 people were killed in Sri Lanka's war up until 2002. The study further states the estimate may be as high as 338,000 killed, taking into account various factors that may have led to under-reporting, and only includes those killed directly due to violence in the conflict.

The news reports appeared in the English language evening daily News Today, contradicts the conservative figure of 70, 000 people have been officially listed as killed in the ethnic conflict since 1983.

According to an interview report appearing in News Today, an evening news daily published from Chennai, Tamil Nadu, “The study is careful to point out that their survey's inability to ‘capture families with no survivors’ is another source of downward bias, and that their estimates are thus conservative.”

An interview report by Columnist V. Sundaram, appeared in the News Today revealed that a Canadian Tamil originally from Sri Lanka has indicated his desire to produce two documentary films on Tibetan and Sri Lankan (Tamil Refugees).

Reports revealed that the Tibetan and Sri Lankan refugees are creation of political changes that beset Tibet and Sri Lanka.

The full text of the news report appeared in English Language evening daily is given below:

Documentary on Tibetan and Sri Lankan (Tamil) Refugees

By V. Sundaram

I recently interviewed Sr.N.Kumaraguruparan from Toronto in Canada. He is going to produce 2 Documentary Films on Tibetan and Sri Lankan (Tamil) refugees, at a cost of Rs. 1 crore each. In my view this move of Kumaraguruparan is being made at a very opportune time when there is a growing global concern about the intractable human and humanitarian problem of Tibetan and Sri Lankan refugees.N.KumaraguruparanN.Kumaraguruparan

What is the genesis of the problem of Tibetan refugees? In 1959 the Government of India granted asylum to their spiritual and temporal leader the Dalai Lama. The first batch of Tibetan refugees crossed over into India on March 31, 1959, when 85,000 Tibetans followed their religious leader, the Dalai Lama. The second exodus began in the early 1980s when Tibet was opened to trade and tourism.

Between 1986 and 1996, nearly 25,000 people have taken refuge in India. Approximately 44% of them are monks and nuns. There has been a steady trickle of refugees to India. Some 2,200 Tibetan refugees arrived in India in the year 1999. Although all of them were allowed entry, most of the refugees have not been granted legal residence. Often referred to as the model refugee community, Tibetans officially form the largest refugee group in South Asia. They are an organized refugee group maintaining a unique culture and pursuing a peaceful struggle.

An explanation of the history of the problem of the Tibetan Refugees is beset with problems and reflects the conflicting versions of the Chinese and the Tibetans. According to the latter, Tibet is historically an independent nation and China is a super colonial power exploiting them. The official Chinese version holds that Tibet is an integral part of China. The Chinese Premiers Deng Xiaoping in 1978 and Li Peng in 1991 have emphasized that Tibet is an ‘inalienable’ part of China. Despite these opposing political viewpoints, the fact remains that there is a Tibet problem, a very human problem, which is reflected in the unprecedented number of displaced people who have become refugees.

The reasons for displacement based on studies conducted on Tibetan refugees have been identified as:

1.Religious persecution

2.Political repression

3.Obstruction of endogamous marriages by the Chinese Government

4.Their being the ardent followers of the Dalai Lama

Sri Lankan Refugees

The origins of the Sri Lankan refugee problem are very different. It all started with a civil war in 1983. The Sri Lankan Civil War is an ongoing conflict on the island-nation of Sri Lanka. Since the year 1983, there has been on-and-off civil war, predominantly between the government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE, also known as the Tamil Tigers), a separatist militant organization, fighting for the creation of an independent state named ‘Tamil Eelam’ in the North and East of the island.

It is estimated over 70,000 people have been officially listed as killed in the war since 1983. However, a recent study published in the esteemed British Medical Journal indicates that these figures are far from accurate. The independent study, performed by the University of Washington and Harvard Medical School, indicates that at least 215,000 people were killed in Sri Lanka's war up until 2002.

The study further states the estimate may be as high as 338,000 killed, taking into account various factors that may have led to under-reporting, and only includes those killed directly due to violence in the conflict. The study is careful to point out that their survey's inability to ‘capture families with no survivors’ is another source of downward bias, and that their estimates are thus conservative. More than 2,00,000 Sri Lankan Tamils have been displaced from their mother country on account of this ethnic violence since 1983 and have become stateless and homeless refugees in different parts of the world. Nearly 80,000 to 1,00,000 of them are today living in Canada, about 40,000 in UK and the balance in other countries of the world.

Producer of the Documentary film

The producer of the 2 proposed Documentary Films N.Kumaraguruparan was born on 13 February 1953 in Colombo, Sri Lanka. His father, Chidambaram Pillai Nagalingam was Chief Accountant of Ceylon Broadcasting Corporation. Kumaraguruparan had his education in Colombo and in Madras. After Graduation in Economics from Madras University, he did International Relations in International Institute, Colombo.

Later he went to Toronto, Canada and served in the Royale Bank of Canada. His forefathers were from Tirunelveli District of Tamilnadu. Kumarakuruparan is married to Purnima Velamuri, M.A.History, M.Phil., M.Ed., of Osmania University, Hyderabad and has a daughter Tamanna Pradhayini. Kumaraguruparan is Director of French Quebec Trust of Canada, a financial organization. He was the convener, International Hindu Youth Association of North America (Canada, U.S.A.) & U.K. Dr. Karansingh was at one time its patron. Kumaraguruparan has been an active member of Canadian Human Rights Society.

When I questioned Kumaraguruparan about his approach to the production of his 2 new Documentary Films, he spoke to me with deadly earnestness and conviction: ‘The power of instantaneous sight and sound is without precedent in mankind’s history. This is an awesome power. It has limitless capabilities for good –and for evil. And it carries with it awesome responsibilities—responsibilities which you and I cannot escape. Very unfortunately, the Documentary Film today has become the creature, rather than the creator, of man’s tastes. It is giving too much froth because too few want substance. The film has to regain its masculine prerogative, which is to educate, inform, engage the interest of, and guide the minds of free men and women in a throbbing democracy’.

True to his words of conviction, the production of these two documentaries, first ever in the strife-torn history of Tibet and Sri Lanka, would prove to be a pioneering effort for making the world aware of the plight of Tibetan and Sri Lankan Refugees, helping the world community to understand with concern and help them in future for a better living.

- Asian Tribune -

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