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

By Christopher McDowell | Go to book overview

4
Sri Lanka
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.

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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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