Tamil Information Centre
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What is Tamil Information Centre?

Tamil Information Centre (TIC) is an independent organization, primarily committed to the promotion of human rights of the Tamil-speaking people of Sri Lanka. It does not take any public stand on which political solution is best for Sri Lanka, provided that any settlement is based on justice, equality and respect for fundamental human rights. In articulating the human rights and humanitarian concerns of the Tamil-speaking people, we are committed to the principle and practice of promoting individual and collective human rights of all peoples. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) serves as our basic frame of reference and we seek to promote the observance of the fundamental principles enshrined in the UDHR and other international human rights instruments.

Is the Tamil Information Centre linked to any political organization?

The Tamil Information Centre is not linked to any political or militant organization. We work with many groups and organizations within and outside Sri Lanka irrespective of their ideological and political interests. This is essential for our information, human rights and peace work.

Who is supporting the Tamil Information Centre?

Support for the Tamil Information Centre largely comes from the Tamil community. The TIC also receives support from organizations involved in the promotion of human rights, peace, democracy and development.

The TIC relies heavily on volunteers, donations from people and organizations and fund-raising programs.

What are the sources of information of the Tamil Information Centre?

The Tamil Information Centre, over the years, has fostered links with governmental and non-governmental organizations and individuals world-wide. These links form the TIC’s information network. They include human rights, social, religious and cultural workers, lawyers, health professionals and journalists; and refugees and asylum seekers.

The TIC also has its own source personnel, who are trained information workers.

In addition, TIC’s Documentation Unit collects and processes documents and other information material from a wide variety of sources. These include newspapers and journals, reports of governments, inter-governmental organizations, the UN and fact-finding missions. Affidavits, habeas corpus applications, letters from detainees, political prisoners and war victims, eye-witness statements and reports, photographs, audio and video recordings of interviews and speeches also form part of TIC’s research materials. The TIC facilitates visits by international media, government and non-government representatives and members of legislatures to Sri Lanka, particularly to the conflict zones. These representatives often share their findings and experiences with the TIC researchers. The researchers monitor websites, and other online news outlets. They also monitor relevant proceedings programs of the UN and other international agencies, and where appropriate, prepare submissions.

Can TIC information rely upon?

In trying to meet the different information needs of various users, we give utmost importance to the accuracy of our information. Every information item received by the TIC is checked and re-checked before it is formulated into messages. The TIC takes full responsibility for all the information items conveyed to the public and if proved incorrect we are prepared acknowledge and issue a correction.

Is TIC’s work effective?

The TIC’s role in the promotion and protection of human rights is best achieved by its widest possible dissemination of information on the status of human rights in Sri Lanka and by helping the international human rights community to formulate their concerns and action. The organization’s extensive network of people and organizations has always been useful to gather information and insight from the worst affected people and places in Sri Lanka.

Over the years, the TIC has gained access to influential personalities, policy makers and practitioners. The effective use of this access continues to assist us in promoting the revitalization of the civil society severely weakened by war, and complementing efforts to create and sustain viable democratic structures and institutions. Our campaigns and research are fact based. We provide subject specialists to address meetings, workshops and discussions on human rights, political, cultural and developmental issues on Sri Lanka. We publish special reports, newsletters, a monthly newspaper, and we provide information to the news media. We assist campaign groups in preparing campaign and lobby materials. We are involved in conflict prevention and promotion of diaspora engagement and we have found that in this context ‘quite diplomacy’ is more rewarding. The response of the users and beneficiaries of our services has been overwhelmingly positive. International agencies, particularly NGOs, often seek information or assistance on various issues from us, and our alliance for joint action. Our methods and procedures have been appreciated and we have often been encouraged to undertake new tasks.

Speaking about and advocating Tamil rights, isn’t TIC showing bias?

The TIC was established at a time when there was a serious threat to freedom of expression and association in Sri Lanka. The activities of organizations and individuals protecting the human rights of the Tamil speaking people were under close scrutiny by the Sri Lankan State. Fear caused by threats and violence prevented people from speaking out on Tamil rights. Those who defied the government were subjected to intimidation, arrest and torture and disappearance. Many human rights activists were killed, a large number “disappeared” and many others were forced to flee the country. The security and safety of the Tamil-speaking people in the North-East Tamil homeland had become imperiled with the progressive increase of Sri Lankan armed forces in this area.

The introduction of a massive military force into the Tamil homeland and the plight of the Tamil people, who were deprived of their rights and dignity and condemned to a battered and brutalized existence, made it abundantly clear that the Sri Lankan State had forsaken the political means of achieving peace and had chosen a military solution. The government imposed restrictions through draconian legislation making it impossible to obtain information, particularly about human rights violations against the Tamil-speaking people and the humanitarian situation in the North-East. The government also banned foreign media and independent observers into the Tamil areas, in order to continue the military’s massacres, destruction of villages and infrastructure, torture and disappearance with impunity.

The conflict in Sri Lanka has seen many players, including political parties, militant groups and voluntary agencies. However, the Sri Lankan State has the responsibility for the security and protection of its own citizens. The State has the primary responsibility to protect its populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. The State is accountable to its citizens and to the international community for its actions. This accountability includes accepting the right of the Tamil Information Centre to ask questions and to express concern when Tamil peoples’ rights are denied. The international community has the responsibility to take timely and decisive action to prevent and halt mass atrocities when a State is manifestly failing to protect its populations. In this context, the TIC highlights the violations committed by the Sri Lankan State in order to inform the international community and to seek international intervention.

Why can’t TIC extend its scope to other southern areas?

Human rights have no boundaries. TIC believes human rights have no boundaries and must be respected universally. We are also aware that there are concerns over human rights violations in the south and other parts of the country. Given the conditions prevailing in Sri Lanka, TIC feels that it cannot be effective if work is extended. Although the TIC wishes to work for all peoples, we realize that the task is difficult, particularly in view of the considerable constraints placed on the TIC as regards time and personnel. Furthermore, our resources are limited; placing a ceiling on what can be undertaken. However, the TIC works with other human rights organizations and individuals who are involved in the promotion and protection of human rights of those who live outside the North-East Tamil homeland and the plantations.

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