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இலங்கைத் தமிழர்கள்: காலவரையறையற்றதொரு பாரம்பரியம் என்ற கண்காட்சிதொடர்பான தமிழ் தகவல் நடுவத்தின் (TIC) உத்தியோகபூர்வ அறிக்கை
Published Date: 18/04/2019 (Thursday)

Statement on the ‘Tamils of Lanka: A Timeless Heritage’ Exhibition
On 18th May 2019, Tamils across the world will commemorate the ten year anniversary of the end of the armed conflict in Ilankai, which culminated in the massacre of tens of thousands in Mullivaikal. On this day, they will come together to mourn the loss of loved ones during the war and also those who sacrificed their lives during the decades-long struggle for freedom and justice. Many Tamil people, both in the homeland and diaspora, will protest. They will demand truth and accountability from the Sri Lankan government, as well as pressurise the international community to hold the Sri Lankan government and alleged perpetrators of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity to account.
To add more strength to the invaluable efforts taken by other Tamil organisations, the Tamil Information Centre (TIC) is holding a two-day exhibition on 18-19 May 2019, named Tamils of Lanka: A Timeless Heritage. We would like to address in this open letter, firstly, how we chose the title of the exhibition, and secondly, why TIC are holding the exhibition during this commemorative period. However, first it is important we convey the purpose of this exhibition.
What is the purpose of this exhibition?
The purpose of this exhibition is to collect, research, preserve and exhibit information relating to the history, culture and heritage of Ilankai Tamils. It strives to articulate the experiences of Tamil-speaking peoples (before and after the Mullivaikal massacre) in Ilankai and in countries with significant Tamil expatriate communities. The exhibition aims to engage a global audience using mixed media including: art, artefacts, photographs, documentaries and testimonies from those who experienced and survived the armed conflict.
At least 50 artists, researchers, academics and activists from all over the world (including Ilankai, India, Canada, Australia and Europe) are contributing to the exhibition, involving diverse sections of the Tamil-speaking community - as well as non-Tamils. The exhibition will cover many topics, including:
● Ancient history of Ilankai Tamils
● Tamil political resistance
● The conflict (from the beginning, throughout the rise of the de facto state, right until the present day)
● Art and culture ● ‘Mullivaikal’ (a separate space in the exhibition dedicated to highlighting the massacre of tens of thousands of Tamils at the end of the armed conflict in Mullivaikal).
Across the two days, various speakers will also talk on the aforementioned topics and there will be creative art workshops for young children.
● educate the younger generations of Tamils
● engage the broader Tamil and international community who are apathetic or oblivious to Tamil-speaking peoples’ struggle for justice, freedom and human rights.
This exhibition will be a safe and engaging space to do this, encouraging visitors to cultivate respect, gratitude and understanding in relation to Tamil speaking peoples’ struggle.
This two-day exhibition is just the first step towards a larger ambition. Our next aim is to create a ‘travelling exhibition’ that will pass through countries with significant numbers of Tamil-speaking people. Our long-term goal is to establish a permanent museum in London, where the history of Ilankai Tamils can be recorded and displayed indefinitely. We cannot change the events of the past, but we can take ownership over how our stories are portrayed to the outside world.
Why we have chosen the title ‘Tamils of Lanka: A Timeless Heritage’
Since mid-2017, the title of this exhibition had been Mullivaikal Remembers. Over the past few months, members of TIC visited Tamil schools to raise awareness, explaining to parents why their children should be encouraged to attend. Many parents opined how the exhibition would be more appealing if the cultural aspect of Tamils was emphasised - as opposed to focusing on the war alone. Since one of the key aims of the exhibition is to educate younger Tamil generations, TIC decided to change the title of the exhibition to reflect its broader scope and ensure young Tamil children are allowed to attend by their parents.
While deliberating over the new title, TIC consulted a wide range of historians, scholars and esteemed members of the Tamil community from around the world. There are a myriad of reasons as to why ‘Lanka’ was chosen above other terms. The most important reasons are how ‘Lanka’ is understood by historians to be an ancient historical name for the island; with the Tamil translation of ‘Lanka’ being ‘Ilankai’. As well as this, it is more recognizable to non-Tamils and is a neutral term, inclusive of all Tamil speaking people in the homeland. Since its establishment in 1979, TIC has endeavoured to involve all Tamil speaking people in the island in its advocacy work and this is a principle we proudly stand by to this very day.
Why we are holding the exhibition on 18th and 19th May 2019
Tamil Information Centre is very conscious of the importance of the 18th of May. Tamils of Lanka: A Timeless Heritage is in no way intended to distract or dissuade people from attending other commemorative events held during that day. In fact, we strongly encourage members of the community to attend such events. Although the exhibition itself is a space for Tamil people to collectively mourn the dead and reflect upon the war, it is primarily intended to honour the resilience of the Tamil community through a variety of educational and community-orientated means. Therefore, our two-day event is very much intended to complement any events taking place on the weekend of 18th and 19th May.
The exhibition is free and is open from 11am to 6pm on both days. Therefore, entry time is flexible and is intended to accommodate anyone attending other protests or remembrance events during that weekend. Hence, we strongly believe that holding this exhibition on these days will not cause any negative impact on any other remembrance services or protests organised by any other Tamil organisations.
Tamil Information Centre is a non-profit making company limited by guarantee. Registered in England No. 2563348
Your support
We encourage you to support this exhibition because this endeavour is entirely for the benefit of the present and future generations of Tamil speaking people in Ilankai and across the world. At present, there is no singular, official record of our history anywhere in the world. Up to now, it has not been possible to establish such an initiative in Ilankai due to state repression. This exhibition can grow into a comprehensive record of our history, but it requires the support of the whole Tamil speaking community in order to do this. We encourage you to work with us to ensure we curate an exhibition reflective of the experiences of all Tamil speaking people during decades of struggle.
We look forward to seeing as many of you as possible at the exhibition, so we can collectively mourn and remember those who have lost their lives, honour the resilience of the Tamil community, and, most of all, educate our youth.
If you have any further questions, please contact TIC directly via: [email protected] or [email protected]
Thank you.

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