A Tamil Asylum Diaspora: Sri Lankan Migration, Settlement and Politics in Switzerland

By Christopher McDowell | Go to book overview

3
Swiss Public Opinion,
Asylum Policy Reform
and the Repatriation Agreement

Introduction

This chapter explores the politics of immigration, asylum and repatriation in Switzerland during the period of my research. It sets out the recent historical trends and contemporary forces which led to demands for a substantial revision to Switzerland's asylum and immigration laws in the early 1990s. I shall concentrate on events over the past decade which have played, and will continue to play, such a crucial role in directing those revisions. It shall be seen that the Tamil presence in Switzerland was central to this process, and the February 1994 repatriation scheme was one of the first major manifestations of the desire for change. More importantly it was a consequence of that desire.

Why did the Swiss federal authorities push for the UNHCR- Swiss-Sri Lanka Agreement at this particular time? In order to answer this question it is first necessary to understand the political culture of Switzerland as a host society. The objective of the return scheme was clear: to limit the potential of high immigration in the future, and to this end Tamils constituted the first target group. The economy and social integration were the prime basic concerns of ordinary Swiss citizens who, through the country's community-based political system, significantly influenced the policy decision to put such an agreement in place.

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A Tamil Asylum Diaspora: Sri Lankan Migration, Settlement and Politics in Switzerland
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Contents vi
  • Acknowledgements ix
  • List of Abbreviations x
  • Glossary xi
  • Part One - Introduction and Research 1
  • 1 - Introduction -- Asylum Diaspora 3
  • 2 - Fieldwork and Research Methods 33
  • 3 - Swiss Public Opinion, Asylum Policy Reform and the Repatriation Agreement 46
  • Introduction 46
  • Conclusion 63
  • Part Two 67
  • 4 69
  • 5 - Sri Lanka 1983 to 1991 -- Conflict 94
  • Part Three - Tamil Asylum Entry into Switzerland 115
  • 6 - Switzerland's Tamil Asylum Migrant Population 117
  • Introduction 117
  • 7 - Early-Phase Asylum Migration 1983 to 1985 140
  • 8 - Middle-Phase Asylum Migration 1986 to 1988 170
  • Introduction 170
  • Summary 196
  • 9 - Late-Phase Asylum Migration 1989 to 1991 197
  • Introduction 197
  • Part Four - Diaspora Divisions, Formation and Politics 225
  • 10 - Immigrants and Asylum Seekers 227
  • Introduction 227
  • 11 - Politics in Exile: The Profits of Inertia 252
  • Introduction 252
  • Conclusion 265
  • Part Five 267
  • 12 - Conclusion 269
  • Bibliography 290
  • Index 303
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