Against Continuous Erasure and Genocide: the Fight for Eelam Tamil Monuments

Published

On January 8, 2021, the Sri Lankan army conducted the bulldozing of the Mullivaikkal Memorial on the University of Jaffna in Eelam. This destruction is one of many against the markers of Tamil commemoration of the genocide, as Brintha Koneshachandra explains in this text.

Article published in The Funambulist 34 (March-April 2021) The Paris Commune & the World. Click here to access the rest of the issue.

The Mullivaikkal Memorial used to stand still in the garden of the University of Jaffna. From afar, Eelam Tamil students, professors, lecturers, staff members, and visitors could see the monument’s stone arms and hands reaching out from the soil. These were arms and hands of the tens of thousands of Tamil civilians massacred in the village of Mullivaikkal by the ethnocratic Sri Lankan government. Located on the North Eastern coast of Eelam, the village of Mullivaikkal was designated as a no-fire zone by the Sri Lankan government during the final stages of the war. In the first five months of 2009, between 70,000 and 140,000 Tamils were gathered and entrapped in this no-fire zone, before being executed by the Sri Lankan army. Mullivaikkal marked the culmination of the state-sponsored genocide targeting the Tamil population in the civil war roughly spanning from 1958 until 2009. The memorial structure was erected by family members of the victims to commemorate their lost and loved ones, who disappeared during the Mullivaikkal massacre.

Nissi Funambulist
“Yalpanam, Jaffna.” / Artwork by Suman Nissi, created in the wake of the demolition of Mullivaikkal Memorial, on January 8, 2021.

Uprooted from their lands, a large part of the Eelam Tamil diaspora across the world have learnt to preserve memories of their people through commemoration days as their connection with their homeland is rendered difficult, if not impossible. Many stateless refugees left their homes bringing little to no personal belongings with them. For my family, my mother’s stories were our unique bridge to the homeland. In the past years, my personal connection to my heritage has also been fulfilled through yearly commemoration days. Commemorating Maveerar Naal, the Remembrance Day of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) militants who fought for the liberation of Tamil Eelam on November 27, or Mullivaikkal Remembrance Day on May 18, was all that was left for me, an Eelam Tamil woman, living far from my community, to connect with my land, people and history. On these days, my body goes through a process of mourning for the pain and suffering that my people went through, and the intergenerational traumas of genocide that I also carry on my shoulders. It is a day where I remember collectively with my diaspora, it is a day of collective resistance against the past and current oppression of our people.