On 18th May 2019, Tamils across the world will commemorate the ten-year anniversary of the end of the armed conflict in Ilankai, which culminated in the massacre of tens of thousands of Tamils in Mulivaikkal. On this day, many will come together to mourn the loss of loved ones during the war and also those who have sacrificed their lives during the decades-long struggle for freedom and justice. Many Tamil people, both in the Tamil homeland and diaspora, will protest. They will demand truth and accountability from the Sri Lankan state, as well as pressurise the international community to hold the Sri Lankan government and alleged perpetrators of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity to account. Many others will convene at remembrance events, many such are being organised by diaspora organisations around the world.
To complement the invaluable efforts taken by other Tamil organisations on this day, the Tamil Information Centre (TIC) is holding a two-day exhibition on 18-19 May 2019, named Tamils of Lanka: A Timeless Heritage.
The exhibition is free entry for all and is open from 11am to 9pm on Saturday 18 May and 11am to 6pm on Sunday 19 May. Therefore, entry time is flexible and is intended to accommodate anyone attending other protests, demonstrations or remembrance events during that weekend.
The purpose of the exhibition is to collect, research, preserve and exhibit information relating to the history, culture and heritage of Ilankai Tamils. It strives to articulate the experiences of Tamil-speaking peoples (before and after the Mulivaikkal massacre) in Ilankai and in countries with significant Tamil expatriate communities. The exhibition aims to engage a global audience using mixed media including: art, artefacts, photographs, documentaries and testimonies from those who experienced and survived the armed conflict.
‘Despite the distance, the war affected me profoundly. My work is about connecting with the people from this distance.’ – Sabes Sugunasabesan, photographer
The Last Walk to the Beach (2016)
A young man by Mulivaikkal beach, photographed by Sabes Sugunasabesan
At least 50 artists, researchers, academics and activists from all over the world (including Ilankai, India, Canada, Australia and Europe) are contributing to the exhibition, involving diverse sections of the Tamil-speaking community - as well as non-Tamils. The exhibition will cover many topics, including:
● Ancient history of Ilankai Tamils
● Tamil political resistance
● The conflict (from the beginning, throughout the rise of the de facto state, right until the present day)
● Art and culture
● ‘Mulivaikkal’ (a separate space in the exhibition dedicated to highlighting the massacre of tens of thousands of Tamils at the end of the armed conflict in Mulivaikkal).
All good memories are there
Art by Yeni Kim, drawing on interviews about memories of home with London-based Tamils, see more at the exhibition
Across the two days, various speakers will also talk on the wide range of topics covered in the exhibiton and there will be creative art workshops for young children.
There will also be Tamil cultural performances on both Saturday 18 May and Sunday 19 May from 6pm to 9pm. These are ticketed and are £10 for single entry and £15 for families (2 adults + children under 18).
We, at TIC, encourage you to support this exhibition because this endeavour is entirely for the benefit of the present and future generations of Tamil speaking people in Ilankai and across the world. At present, there is no singular, official record of our history anywhere in the world. Up to now, it has not been possible to establish such an initiative in Ilankai due to state repression. This exhibition can grow into a comprehensive record of our history, but it requires the support of the whole Tamil speaking community in order to do this. We encourage you to work with us to ensure we curate an exhibition reflective of the experiences of all Tamil speaking people during decades of struggle. Our long-term aim is to create a permanent museum and we would welcome any ideas or contributions you have towards this.
We look forward to seeing as many of you as possible at the exhibition, so we can collectively mourn and remember those who have lost their lives, honour the resilience of the Tamil community, and, most of all, educate our youth.
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