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

By Christopher McDowell | Go to book overview

11
Politics in Exile: The Profits of Inertia

Introduction

T he division in the Tamil exile population between the more established and secure immigrant community, and the far less self-assured and temporary population of asylum seekers, has had a number of implications for the conduct of Tamil exile politics. The LTTE in Switzerland is very much a part of the Jaffna-based militant organisation. The leadership of the Swiss branch of the LTTE was hand selected in Jaffna and sent to Zürich to perform specific tasks in line with the organisation's requirements. For a short time at least, the Swiss branch was headed by one of the LTTE's most ruthless military commanders, ' Kittu', whose presence, as will be shown, was significant for a number of reasons. However, for operational reasons, the LTTE leadership in Jaffna preferred to post political, rather than military, personnel to its overseas branches. What they sought was an able leader who was also an entrepreneur. He had to be committed to the Tigers and Eelam, and respected by the youth.

There was no blueprint for setting up an unofficial embassy or creating a panoply of LTTE supporting groups in an overseas country. The LTTE were not administratively organised to do this, and so relied on their appointees to assess the situation in each country, city or town, recruit helpers and establish networks that would achieve the given tasks. Switzerland has Europe's second largest Tamil population and offers asylum-seekers the highest level of income and social support in Europe. It contains, then, a very rich resource which Jaffna needs to tap if it is to continue the war against the Sri Lankan Government. I will describe below the

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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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