Eelam (ஈழம்) is a Tamil word for “homeland”. It is also the native Tamil word for the island of Sri Lanka (Ceylon). The origin of this word is more than 2000 years old. Tamil Eelam is also used to describe the Tamil regions in the North-East of the island, as well as the independent state which Tamils were fighting for in their struggle for self-determination.
The Sri Lankan state has a huge tourism campaign for its country, mostly promoting Sinhala parts of the island. One reason is that the Tamil homeland was the most affected during the armed conflict and was the site for some of the worst atrocities in the 21th century. Even today it is one of the highest militarized regions in the world. For many people these regions aren’t worthy to visit. The Tamil part in the North-East of Eelam, is often ignored by national and international tourism campaigns, unless after Sinhala-Buddhisation of attractions and places. After the war, the Sri Lankan state initiated some kind of touristification of Eelam. The Sri Lankan security forces started to run hotels, beaches and other tourist attractions, mostly on occupied Tamil land. This is highly problematic because the Sri Lankan security forces are linked to genocide, horrific war crimes and human rights violations before, during and after the armed conflict.
I was very privileged and lucky to visit the Eelam part of the island many times in the last few years. With this Eelamviews project, i want to highlight the beauty and diversity of the Tamil homeland, which is often ignored by Sri Lankan tourism campaigns. I want to show the resilience, courage and strength of the local Tamil people, and how they try to live a normal life even under heavy militarization, oppressive politics by the Sinhala-chauvinist state and the economical and psychological struggle after a long and brutal war. There are ethical ways to visit Eelam without supporting militarization and occupation. Sri Lanka Campaign for Peace and Justice is an organization that shows ethical alternatives for travelling the North-East and how to avoid attractions and institution linked to Sri Lankan war criminals and human rights abusers.
Normalising the Abnormal – The Militarisation of Mullaitivu
A report by Adayaalam Centre for Policy Research and People for Equality and Relief in Lanka (PEARL) about the heavy militarisation in Mullaitivu, a Tamil district in the North-East and the place of the final stage of the war.
Civil Security Department – The Deep Militarisation of the Vanni
A report by Adayaalam Centre for Policy Research on the Sri Lankan military’s involvement in civilian activities.
Dark Clouds over the Sunshine Paradise – Tourism and Human Rights in Sri Lanka
A report by the Society for Threatened People about the human rights situation and military involvement in tourism in Sri Lanka.
a website for Tamil news from Sri Lanka in English language. Search for terms like occupation, militarisation and buddhisation for articles about the militarisation and sinhala colonisation in Eelam.
A Swiss documentary about the involvement of the Military and the Sri Lankan state in tourism attractions on occupied land after the tsunami.