Tamils - a Nation without a State
United Kingdom -
- an estimated 100,000 Tamils live in Great Britain
British Tamil from Eelam, Jan
stands for Election to European Parliament
from Greater London Electorate - Around 5 million Voters
15 May 2009
http://votejan4mep.org/ - 8 Seats in Greater London Electorate -
Deepam Interview on Significance of Proportional Representation
in Election to European Parliament
"Tamils under existential threat" says Jan Jananayagam - BBC
Interview, 4 February 2009
Jan Jananayagam at World Tamils Forum London Conference, 27
List of Candidates
Report in Tamil]
Early years and
Jan grew up in Sri Lanka, England, Zambia and Nigeria where
her parents worked as school teachers. In England she lived in
the seaside town of South Port in Merseyside, as well as in
Croydon and in Bramdean, a small village near Winchester.
She studied for her GCE O and A levels by correspondence course
from Africa and gained entry to Manchester University where she
graduated with distinction in Computing and Information Systems.
She also holds a Masters in Applied Mathematics from Imperial
College, University of London and an MBA from INSEAD business
school in France.
Jan’s family were granted leave to
remain in England as refugees from the armed conflict in Sri
Lanka, while Jan herself was granted a work visa in 1989 as a
professional expert in her field.
Jan moved to London in
Jan started her career in Research and development
for a leading computer manufacturer, Digital Equipment Ltd,
before moving to the banking industry, where she worked in roles
in technology, research and trading. She has worked for leading
firms including Merrill Lynch and Credit Suisse.
currently works as interim project manager of quantitative
technology for the Markets and Investment Banking Division of
the Unicredit Group, Italy’s second largest banking group,
splitting her time between the London and German offices.
She has also been involved in setting up and managing
startup e-commerce ventures and understands the needs of
entrepreneurs and small businesses.
She is passionate
about the transformative power of the internet, and of
technology, and has a strong interest in macroeconomic issues.
Jan has been a human rights activist
since 1995, when she co-founded HURT (Human Rights for Tamils)
together with then medical student, Dr S Shiamila. She also
writes regularly for Tamil media. For the last year she has been
UK spokesperson for “Tamils Against Genocide” an advocacy group
that seeks to obtain convictions for genocide against
high-ranking Sri Lankan officials and the state. She is also
recently a Director of the British Tamil law foundation that
focuses on public and international humanitarian law.
Why I am participating in this election to the
I have watched with dismay the
gradual erosion of civil liberties in UK and Europe since 2001,
the increase in the policing powers of the state, and the
accompanying marginalisation of ethnic communities.
appalled by the indifference and impotence of the British and
European political establishment in the context of the ongoing
genocide in Sri Lanka.
I oppose the surreal wastefulness
of the European tax-payer funding the purchase of banned weapons
of war in countries such as Sri Lanka via international
institutions such as the IMF all in the name of preserving
On the other hand, racism is on the rise in Europe and the
BNP has a real chance of getting a seat in London.
clear that when it comes to abiding by agreed international
norms of behaviour our governments cannot be depended on. This
is not just with respect to genocide but also in areas related
to torture and detention.
In the last few months, I have
tried to influence the large political parties and international
organisations to do something tangible to stop the war in Sri
Lanka. Young people have gone on hunger strike while ordinary
people protest in their thousands in London. But we are unable
to stop the forced starvation of an entire people. We cannot
persuade our government to do air drops of food or to insist on
delivery by ship. It seems that no lessons have been learned
from Biafra, Rwanda, Srebenica, let alone the Jewish holocaust.
These last few months have been a revelation.
leave matters in the hands of the established political parties.
As an independent candidate who is not afraid to tell the truth
and to catalyse change, I intend to make a difference in the
areas in my manifesto.
under existential threat" says Jan Jananayagam
[TamilNet, Wednesday, 04 February 2009, 05:16 GMT]
Newshour interview with TAG
BBC: To [obtain] Tamil perspective, I have been talking to
Jan Jananayagam of NGO Tamils against Genocide. She came to our
studio before I came on air. I asked if she supported this call to
the Tamil tigers to lay down their arms.
In an interview with BBC's Lyse Doucet in Tuesday's Newshour
program, British member of the US-based group
Tamils Against Genocide (TAG), Jan Jananayagam, says,
"[g]enocide by UN definition is an attempt to destroy in part or
in whole an ethnic group. I think that what is going here
becomes perilously close to at least destruction at least in
part," and adds that the "existential threat to Tamils" in Sri
Lanka has to be immediately recognized to avoid mistakes made in
Rwanda where obstruction to recognition of genocide early
resulted in the loss of thousands of lives.
of the interview segment follows:
Jananayagam: Absolutely not. We would not suggest that
this is the starting point of this discussion. As a Tamil group,
what we like to see is official acceptance that genocide is on
going in Srilanka. We think that understanding the problem is
the key to the solution. We think that lot of NGOs have come out
and talked about genocide there.
BBC: I think they talked about – we have to be careful
now, genocide does refer to something absolutely atrocious –we know
there are civilians have been suffering and civilians have been
killed. but, let us talk about the extent, trying to end it. Do you
think laying down arms will do something to stop.
Jananayagam: “No I don’t. I don’t. I disagree with you
on the point that genocide is something atrocious. Genocide by
UN definition is an attempt to destroy in part or in whole an
ethnic group. I think that what is going here becomes perilously
close to at least destruction at least in part. The problem with
genocide is you don’t recognize then till they are over. We
never did in past till they are over. We also say as Tamils that
this is a long running genocide started with legislation when a
million Tamils lost citizenship. It is a very very long running
BBC: But that is OK, what is being said now is the
government has asked the Tamil tigers to release civilians – the
international community and the Red Cross and the UN has talked
about freedom of movement for people. so they are also in effect
asking the Tamil Tigers to leave the conflict zone.
Jananayagam: That I agree with. That is perfectly
fine. I don’t think that the Tamil tigers are holding the people
back from the conflict zone of preventing them from moving …
BBC: Then why would the UN then call on them to provide
freedom of movement, if they are ..
Jananayagam: That is a very interesting question for
UN. The UN should be asking why those people are being shelled.
why hospitals are being shelled, why safe zones are being
shelled. There are 5000 shells that fell on the safe zone. The
question is why is that happening? you can’t force people to
move away from their homes. I don’t think UN should be
suggesting that. It is a war crime to shell civilians in a safe
zone. The UN should recognize that war crime right now. We need
to recognize what is going on now by the name.
BBC: I think this group of countries all of them who were
trying to play a part in ending the conflict are saying is that the
Tamil tigers are being defeated on one battle field after another.
It is a matter of time. Therefore, why not end it now before more
lives are lost.
Jananayagam: I completely agree that is how they see
it. But as Tamils, we believe that they see it wrong. The
problem is not a problem of civil war – not a problem of
terrorism as it is made out to be. It is an attack on Tamil
people. There is a reason why Tamil people, civilians are being
killed by their own government – supposedly their own
government, Srilankan government is attacking its own people.
Tamil people are under existential threat. We have been for a
very long time. Nobody else seem to recognize that.
BBC: So, what would you say that. You don’t agree with the
call to lay down the arms. what is the means to stop this – we both
agree on this – the suffering of civilians?
Jananayagam: It is to recognize that there are war
crimes, that there are acts of genocide. If you do not wish to
recognize complete genocide, you can begin with acts of
genocide. It is to impose sanctions for war crimes. It is to
even that – balance out the playing field between the government
and the Tigers.
BBC: That is after the fighting is over there should be an
investigation into. What about now, when the fighting is continuing?
Jananayagam: I think that the recognition has to be
immediate. In Rwanda, that was the mistake that was made. In
Rwanda, the US and Britain obstructed recognition. That cost
BBC: So, should the Tamil Tiger rebels keep fighting?
Jananayagam: I don’t think the UN, based on its record
in Rwanda, has proved that it can alone defend the Tamil people.
Tamil people are under threat, and there is a party required to
defend them. The Tamil people have to choose.
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