Violence, Nationalism and Migration
It is argued in this study that since 1983, the rate and incidence of Tamil migration from Sri Lanka to Europe has been shaped, in part, by the asylum policies of Western governments who were prepared to accept Tamils as asylum seekers fleeing violence. However, it would be wholly insufficient to explain Tamil migration simply in terms of these pull factors. An understanding of the mass movement of Tamils over the past decade has to be set against the background of three developments. The first is the post-Independence political history of Sri Lanka in which the island, once held as a model of Developing World democracy, lurched violently towards authoritarianism, with economic deprivation in certain areas affecting certain groups in society, and centralisation. The second is the rise of militant Tamil ethnonationalism as a constituent element, as well as a consequence, of this island-wide climate of fear and insecurity, loss of civil liberties, democratic crisis and violent manipulative politics. The third is the historic migration of Tamils from Sri Lanka since the colonial era, during which a spirit of migration, mostly by middle-class Tamils, became built in to Tamil cultural aspirations, aspirations which were realised through institutionalised asylum migration -- in sharp contrast to the Sinhalese majority which did not create its own asylum diaspora.