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Sri Lankan refugees comin tae Réunion

Syne the stert o 2018, the’r been Sri Lankan asylum seekers comin tae Réunion, an island tae the East o Africae ringit bi Fraunce, bi boat. The’r been sax boats in 13 month cairryin fae sax tae 120 Sri Lankans. It’s a wanchancy traik, inspecially wi the wee rafts some o thaim haes got.

The refugees tholes an assizes on laundfaw. Lawyers defendin some o thaim haes said that thare wis irregularities in the process. An the migrant defense organisation Cimade delates the fact that some wis sent back ithoot thair refugee status bein exaimined. Some o the Sri Lankan refugees is acceptit an ithers isnae. For ensaumple, oot o the 120 in the maist recent group, 20 haed thair asylum eligibility acceptit. Some o the migrants wis threitent in thair hame kintra acause thay campaignt for opposition pairties. Thaim that’s sent back likely face the jyle. The Sri Lankan government ettles at forfendin migrants lea’in thair kintra; the Sri Lankan polis liftit some Sri Lankans ettlin at emigratin.

Thare is a mixed reaction fae the population in Réunion: some fowk is opponed tae the arrival o the Sri Lankans, while ithers walcomes thaim.

Amang the opponents, some says that the Sri Lankans sudnae come tae Réunion acause ‘thare is eneuch fowk tae help here’ but thay dinnae necessarily help thair neebours thairsels. This is unnerlined in a meme bi a comedy Facebook page that says ‘migrants Sri-Lankais : Afin de pouvoir utiliser l’excuse « et nos sdfs ? », il donne une pièce à un mendiant réunionnais pour la première fois de sa vie’ (For tae can uise the scug ‘an whit aboot wir ain hameless fowk?’ he gies a cunyie tae a Réunionese gaberlunzie for the first time in his life).

Some opponents mentions that migrants sudnae come acause thare isnae eneuch hoose places an thare is heich wanemployment. This is a major problem, wi Réunion, alang wi the ither owerseas depairtments o France, Greece an Palestine, bein amang the places wi the heichmaist wanemployment in the warld. But thir problems haes been aroond for years, an is structural problems that haes naething tae dae wi the Sri Lankans.

Some opponents is feart o the island haein the population replaced. It’s a misfeckfu fear, even mair sae considerin hou few Sri Lankans is comin an that Réunion haes few first-generation immigrants, inspecially compared wi ither places ringit bi Fraunce.

Whiles, fowk anerly want rich immigrants tae come intae thair kintra for that thay dinnae be a fraucht on the state. This unnerlines the relationship acqueesh migration policy an cless issues that Ash Sarkar spiks aboot.

Ithers, lik masel, says it recks tae kythe humanity an hert-pity tae the Sri Lankan refugees, as thay ar ither human beins. Thir Sri Lankan refugees is escapin a wanchancy situation. The Sri Lankan Tamil refugees is partícularly helpit bi migrant organisations, Tamil organisations an puirtith chairities. Some o thaim helps oot, giein thaim fuid an organisin trips aroond the island. The ashram at Le Port is lattin thaim bide thare for a while.

Some sees thair defense o the migrants as bein mair justifee’d bi the Easter Sunday bomb attacks, whaur mair nor 350 fowk dee’d an mony mair bemangit. This wad justifee the defense acause it wad shaw hou Sri Lanka isnae safe.

We can pit thir migrants intae context:

The religious an political situation in Sri Lanka

Thare is twa main leids in Sri Lanka, baith recognised offícial: Sinhala, leid o a Buddhist majority, an Tamil, leid o a muckle Hindu minority. The Muslim an Christian minorities can spik aither leid.

Thare wis a civil war in Sri Lanka fae 1983 til 2009 acqueesh the central government an the Tamil Tigers that wis ettlin at estaiblishin a Tamil kintra in the north o the island. Mahinda Rajapaksa wis preses acqueesh 2005 an 2009, for the last few years o the war. Rajapaksa haes been accuised o war crimes in this time period. Documents anent this wis furthset bi Wikileaks in 2010. Thare wis ootcry agin Rajapaksa’s visit tae Indie this year on the basis o his bein a war criminal. A UN report commissiont in 2010 an furthset in 2011 foond that baith the government an the Tamil Tigers committit specific war crimes. The UN haed bodden a speirin intae the allegations in 2014. In maugre o aw this, the Sri Lankan government haes refuised tae pursue onybody involved on the government side o the conflict, on the basis that thay ar ‘war heroes’.

Rajapaksa cam back intae pouer, this time as prime mínister, in October 2018 efter his pairty resiled fae government participation. Aye, efter his pairty resiled fae the government; it disnae seem logical. Fortunately, this seicont stint in a position o pouer didnae last langer nor a couple o month.

By the wey o Amnesty International, Tamil Sri Lankans endures herryin yet, as weel as independent jurnalists, opponents o the government an defenders o human richts. Amnesty International haes forby kent o Sri Lankan Tamil refugees comin tae the UK that haes been scored on the back wi brennin metal. As juist ae ensaumple o mistreatment o Sri Lankans in thair kintra that forders thair lea’in.

On the ither haund, we can leuk an aw at migration tae Réunion:

History o migration tae Réunion

Ootthrou the history o Réunion, the’r been waws o migrants fae different continents. Mony o thaim wis gart tae come as sclaves. Efter the abolition o sclavery, indentured wirkers wis comin for tae wirk for a wee bawbee. Baith the sclaves an the indentured wirkers cam fae Indie, the African continent, the Comoros an Madaigascar, wi a few comin fae Malaysie. Indentured wirkers cam forby fae China amang ither kintras. The sclaves cam mair fae Madaigascar an Mozambique while the indentured wirkers cam maistly fae the Sooth o Indie, athort the sea fae Sri Lanka. Tamil is recognised in Réunion as bein the forbeir leid o the Malbars, the name for the local Hindu population o Sooth Indian forbeirs.

This means that the Sri Lankans comin thir days haes the same cultur as the forbeirs o a fair feck o the Réunionese population. This is unnerlined in a farce fae the same comedy page I mentiont earlier: ‘Insolite : pris pour un migrant, un pêcheur Saint-Andréen reconduit au Sri Lanka par erreur’ (Wanuisual: taen for a migrant, a Saint-André fisherman wis taen back tae Sri Lanka bi mistak).

This wey o thare bein some fowk nairae-nebbit agin fowk fae the same origins as thaim, but comin fae a different waw o immigration, can be evened wi nairae-nebbitness taewart Erse fowk in Scotland in that it’s thair mair or less lang-distance cousins; thay belang the same hithercome.

Migration ithin the Indian Ocean

Afore 2018, Sri Lankan migrants wis gaun mair tae Australie an New Zealand, afore thair migration policy wis hairdent.

Réunion is in the EU, sae Europeans can come here eith eneuch. But Africae, the naurmaist continent, an Indie, whaur anither feck o the population comes fae, it’s a different story. Is it richt for a government tae decide whaur fowk stey, grundit in whit siller thay hae?

We can wait an see the ootcome o the 71 Sri Lankans still seekin asylum in Réunion. An we can see hou the bomb attacks primarily agin Sri Lankan Christians this Easter Sunday will affect ony futur migration. An we can howp that human richts will beir the gree.