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

By Christopher McDowell | Go to book overview

10
Immigrants and Asylum Seekers

Introduction

There are two groups of Sri Lankan Tamils in Switzerland. Within each there are sub-groups (for example, theevans, Muslims, members of certain lower castes), but an important cleavage exists, on the one hand, there are those Tamils who arrived between 1983 and 1989, and who are successfully integrated into the economy. They are no longer dependent on state provisions, and have officially given up their bid for asylum in exchange for a form of renewable residence. On the other hand there are those Tamils who arrived in Switzerland after 1989, who have, for various reasons, been unable to integrate into the economy, and continue to hold the status of asylum seeker with the possibility of being returned to Sri Lanka under the repatriation Agreement as described in Chapter Three.

The first group, termed here the Tamil immigrant population, comprises around 12,780 people and is smaller and more cohesive than the second group of Tamil asylum seekers which has a shifting population of around 18,000 (in the remainder of the book the italicised use of immigrant and asylum seeker refers to the groups identified in this chapter). My interviews with Tamils in Switzerland would suggest that the size of the immigrant population is likely to remain static over the next few years (from 1995 onwards) with further associational immigration unlikely, and very few longer- resident Tamils choosing to return to Sri Lanka, even after a cessation of violence. In contrast, continuing repatriation, and

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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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