US embassy cable - 06CHENNAI898

SRI LANKAN TAMIL REFUGEES AGAIN ARRIVING IN SOUTH INDIA

Identifier: 06CHENNAI898
Wikileaks: View 06CHENNAI898 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Consulate Chennai
Created: 2006-05-09 11:48:00
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Tags: PGOV PINR PHUM PTER IN CE
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
VZCZCXRO8228
RR RUEHBI RUEHCI
DE RUEHCG #0898/01 1291148
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 091148Z MAY 06
FM AMCONSUL CHENNAI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8217
INFO RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 1645
RUEHLM/AMEMBASSY COLOMBO 1207
RUEHKA/AMEMBASSY DHAKA 0510
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD 1030
RUEHKT/AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU 0955
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 0099
RUEHNY/AMEMBASSY OSLO 0046
RUEHOT/AMEMBASSY OTTAWA 0154
RUEHSM/AMEMBASSY STOCKHOLM 0039
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 0091
RUEHBI/AMCONSUL MUMBAI 4757
RUEHCI/AMCONSUL CALCUTTA 0504
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 CHENNAI 000898 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV, PINR, PHUM, PTER, IN, CE 
SUBJECT: SRI LANKAN TAMIL REFUGEES AGAIN ARRIVING IN 
SOUTH INDIA 
 
REF: (A) CHENNAI 0867, (B) CHENNAI 0103 
 
1. SUMMARY: (SBU) Tamil refugee leader Chandrahasan 
has reported to Post and Government of Tamil Nadu 
(GoTN) officials have confirmed that on May 6, a 
renewed flow of Tamil refugees from Sri Lanka to south 
India began after a hiatus of four months.  The flow 
at this point is light but may increase if conditions 
continue to worsen in Sri Lanka.  GoTN officials say 
they are ready to handle the new arrivals in existing 
refugee camps in Tamil Nadu.  END SUMMARY. 
 
2. (SBU) On May 3, 2006, Post met with S. C. 
Chandrahasan, a Sri Lankan Tamil refugee who now heads 
the NGO, Organization for Eelam Refugees 
Rehabilitation (OfERR).  OfERR provides services and 
advocacy for Sri Lankan Tamil refugees, both those 
living in south India and those internally displaced 
within Sri Lanka (Ref A).  During the May 3 meeting, 
Chandrahasan described the situation in the 
Trincomalee area where his organization operated an 
outreach center which was gutted by fire in an attack 
by masked men on April 12.  He also noted that as of 
May 3, no additional Tamil refugees had left Sri Lanka 
to seek admission to India as refugees. 
 
--------------------------------------------- -- 
A RENEWED FLOW OF TAMIL REFUGEES TO SOUTH INDIA 
--------------------------------------------- -- 
 
3. (SBU) On May 8, 2006 Chandrahasan called Post to 
report that, over the prior weekend, Tamil refugees 
had again begun arriving in south India.  According to 
Chandrahasan, the arrivals began on May 6 and on a day- 
by-day basis were as follows: 
 
May 6 - 20 refugees 
May 7 - 17 refugees 
May 8 - 38 refugees 
 
The first day that new refugees began to appear in 
numbers in Tamil Nadu was May 6, the last day of 
campaigning in the hard-fought Tamil Nadu assembly 
elections.  Chandrahasan suggested that the 
convergence of the two events on May 6 was not 
coincidental.  Refugees had been postponing their 
departure from Sri Lanka pending the end of the 
campaign, during which they felt security would be 
unusually high to prevent their entry.  The new 
arrivals represent the first new refugees since 
January 2006 when a small number of refugees landed in 
Tamil Nadu after a gap of four years (Ref B). 
 
--------------------------------------------- -- 
REFUGEES ARE FROM JAFFNA, TRINCOMALEE, VAVUNIYA 
--------------------------------------------- -- 
 
4. According to Chandrahasan, the newly arrived 
refugees are from Jaffna, Trincomalee and Vavuniya in 
northern and eastern Sri Lanka.  Ref A reported 
violence in the Trincomalee area on April 12. 
Chandrahasan told Post that conditions are continuing 
to worsen with a lack of power availability now a 
recurring problem in Trincomalee. 
 
--------------------------------------------- ---- 
TAMIL NADU REHABILITATION COMMISSIONER SAYS HE IS 
READY 
--------------------------------------------- ---- 
 
5. (SBU) Post spoke with Ambedkar Rajkumar, the Tamil 
Nadu Commissioner for Rehabilitation, who confirmed 
the numbers that Chandrahasan had provided and added 
that 21 additional refugees arrived on May 9. 
 
CHENNAI 00000898  002 OF 002 
 
 
Rajkumar would not hazard a guess as to the total 
number of new refugees that might ultimately arrive, 
noting that it would depend on conditions on the 
island.  He said that his department, which has 
responsibility for Tamil refugees in Tamil Nadu, is 
ready for the renewed flow, having anticipated their 
arrival based on news reports of worsening conditions 
in Sri Lanka. 
 
--------------------------------------------- - 
TAMIL NADU ELECTION CAMPAIGN IGNORED THE ISSUE 
--------------------------------------------- - 
 
6. (SBU) COMMENT: Despite the worsening situation on 
the ground in the Tamil areas of Sri Lanka, the 
condition of Sri Lankan Tamils was never an issue in 
the just completed election campaign for the Tamil 
Nadu state assembly.  It was convenient for the two 
major parties, both of which have roots in the south 
Indian Dravidian movement which championed Tamil 
language and culture, to leave the issue alone since 
it did not rank high on the list of voters' concerns 
in Tamil Nadu and because the issue has been a 
delicate one since the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi 
by a Tamil terrorist in the state in 1991.  A major 
influx of refugees, if it occurs, might force Tamil 
Nadu and the Government of India to face the issue 
head-on.  END COMMENT. 
 
HOPPER 

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