Re: Help Tamil Women in Northeastern Sri Lanka

 Mrs. Obama
 The White House
 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
 Washington, DC 20500

Mrs. Obama:

Tamil women are suffering in northeastern Sri Lanka.  There are over 90,000 Tamil widows (and 50,000 orphans) in this area. These widows lack money to live on, food to eat, or any hope of making their situation better. They are desperate, and to survive and provide for themselves and their children, they will grab at any straw offered them.

The Sri Lankan army, which occupies the northeastern part of Sri Lanka, where most of the Tamils live, knows this. They take advantage of these desperate Tamil women.  The soldiers offer sustenance in exchange for sex, and then usually withhold any sustenance. It is a way of demeaning and humiliating the Tamils.


When the Tamil women go to the authorities (which means the army) to ask what has happened to their men they place themselves in the role of supplicant, and the soldiers demand payment in sex. The soldiers roam Tamil villages and rape women at will. Staying at home offers the widows no protection, as the soldiers enter and leave the houses whenever they wish. It is no surprise that many of these women are losing their minds.

This is the latest string of events in a process that began in 1948, when the British Empire left Ceylon, which they had governed since 1815. The Singhalese majority took over the government, and used their control to oppress their ancient, resented enemies on the island, the Tamils. There were government-inspired and government–led anti-Tamil riots in 1956, 58, 77, 81 and 83.  The civil war, probably inevitable, followed the 1983 riots.

The war ended in 2009, when the Singhalese army massacred an unknown number of Tamil civilians (the UN now says 80,000).  UK Channel 4 reported that thousands of young Tamil women (nobody knows how many) were captured during and after the fighting or removed from displaced persons camps.  According to channel 4, theses young women were raped and then murdered.

Along with the subjugation of the powerless and penniless Tamil women of northeastern Sri Lanka, Tamil MPs reported to UNHCR in March 2012 that the Sri Lankan army has snatched many Tamil women and used them as “comfort women” in army brothels. This appears to be a habit: The Sri Lankan contingent of the UN peacekeeping force in Haiti was accused of multiple sex crimes against children and sent home.

Secretary of State Clinton said, at the UN "We've seen rape used as a tactic of war before in Bosnia, Burma and Sri Lanka and elsewhere." We think that the abuse of Tamil women in northeastern Sri Lanka is not just a tactic of war, but is part of the structural genocide practiced by Sri Lanka against the Tamil culture.

We hope you will be as appalled by this as we are, and use your influence to get the US and the world to take action to stop it.

Thank you.


Tamils for Obama

PS: We have included with this letter a DVD of UK Channel 4’s documentary program “Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields.”