Treatment of members of the Gandhian movement by the Sri Lankan government and militant groups. [LKA1365]

The Gandhian movement, according to an article in the Tamil Times, was a service club working in the Tamil areas of Sri Lanka. It operated schools, farms, training centres for young women, and mobile clinics, as well as a resettlement program which enabled plantation Tamils from the tea plantations of central and southern Sri Lanka to be integrated into Sri Lankan Tamil villages in the northern part of the country. [S.A. David. "Detention, Torture and Murder - Sri Lanka", Tamil Times, November 1983, p. 8.] A letter from Amnesty International's British Secretariat to Member of Parliament George Park regarding a Tamil refugee claimant notes that the Gandhian Movement was active in resettling Tamil refugees following the 1977 riots. [Letter to George Park, MP from Lindsay Stewart, Refugee Coordinator, Amnesty International British Section regarding Mrs. A.S. Anandram; 1 March 1984.]

This letter further notes that the Sri Lankan government suspected the Movement of harbouring Tamil militants and quotes the Sri Lanka researcher at AI's International Secretariat as claiming that members of the Gandhian Movement had been subject to continual harassment and ill treatment since three years before the date of the letter (1984). In addition to these reports, a Tamil association in Canada published a summary of Sri Lankan news reports which mentioned that the Sri Lankan Army and Police had "pounced" on the Gandhian movement under the Prevention of Terrorism Act. ["Army & Police pounce on Gandhiyam under Terrorism Law", Saturday Review, 9 April 1989.]

The leader of the Gandhian Movement, Dr. Rajasunderam, was killed in the Wellikada Prison riot in 1983. After this, the movement ceased to exist. A noted Canadian expert on the situation in Sri Lanka adds that recently there have been rumours among the expatriate Tamil community in London regarding a possible revival of the Gandhian Movement. This person comments that such a move would be viewed with suspicion by the Sri Lankan government because the Gandhians were considered as a front for the Tamil militant groups in the period before the movement's destruction. The academic source further comments that indeed, the Gandhians probably did work with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, the largest Tamil militant group, but not willingly.