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

By Christopher McDowell | Go to book overview

9
Late-Phase Asylum Migration
1989 to 1991

Introduction

B etween the years 1989 and 1991 the numbers of Sri Lankans entering Switzerland for the purposes of asylum rose steeply when compared to the previous seven years (see Table 9.1). At the end of 1988, according to official statistics, almost 8,000 Sri Lankan nationals applied for political asylum, and the total Sri Lankan population in Switzerland was estimated at around 7,000, of which 97 percent were Tamils. By the end of 1991 a further 17,000 applications for asylum had been submitted, swelling the population to almost 24,000. During the same period the numbers of asylum seekers entering Switzerland from the former Yugoslavia, Turkey, Lebanon and Pakistan had grown at a similar rate.

This increase in the numbers of Tamils entering Switzerland during this period was certainly related to developments taking place in Sri Lanka. However, a major reason contributing to the increase in numbers entering Switzerland, as against for example the numbers entering Britain, Germany and Denmark, during the same period, related directly to Switzerland's asylum policy, and it is in this context that the increase in numbers will be first examined.


Tamil Entry and Swiss Policy

By 1989 Sri Lanka n agents and European schleppers arranging the passage of Tamils to Europe were, to varying degrees, aware of

-197-

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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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