Tamils of Switzerland, Germany, Holland vote on independence this weekend
[TamilNet, Friday, 22 January 2010, 04:04 GMT] Eezham Tamil diaspora in Switzerland goes for referendum on independent and sovereign Tamil Eelam this Saturday and Sunday. A similar ballot will take place in Germany and Holland on Sunday. The democratic exercise on the eve of the presidential elections in Sri Lanka gains significance as it demonstrates the mainstream diaspora is unaffected by the highly publicised political prospects of the elections of ‘united Sri Lanka,’ Tamil observers in Europe said. The enthusiasm seen in the younger generation of the diaspora is particularly a challenge to politics of deviation harping on strengthening Colombo-centric system to find solutions to the crisis, they further said.
Following successful mandate based on the Vaddukkoaddai Resolution of 1976 for independent and sovereign Tamil Eelam in Norway, France and Canada, the current referendum in non-English speaking Central European countries, Switzerland, Germany and the Netherlands is viewed as an important step in the global move of Eezham Tamils in exercising their right to self-determination to democratically register their aspiration.
The spokesperson of the coalition for Tamil Elections in Switzerland Tharsika Pakeerathan, a computer science student at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH Zurich) told TamilNet that Eezham Tamils over 18 years of age would be able to take part in the referendum on 23rd and 24th January throughout the 26 cantons of the country in 50 centres. Tamils live in large numbers in the five cantons of Zurich, Bern, Basel, Lausanne, and Luzern.
The organisers in Germany, where the referendum will be held on Sunday, said they have planned 118 centres across the country, where Tamils live dispersed. Only 2 centres remained to be confirmed at the time of this report. The country has been divided into 6 regions: Stuttgart with 21 centres, Frankfurt with 22 centres, Hanover with 12 centres, Bremen with 10, Gelsenkirchen with 26 and Neuss with 27 centres.
A Bremen based Human Rights group has been tasked with organising the overseeing body which will verify and announce the results coming from the 118 scheduled booths.
In the Netherlands, 15 polling stations have been organised across the country.
In Switzerland, members of the political parties, journalists, University students, members of SOS Racism and officials attached to Integration offices have been approached to officiate the booths to conduct the secret ballot. An ex-Mayor has agreed to oversee the referendum and to announce the results, Tharsika said.
"The move, initiated by young Tamils, especially the 2nd generation in Switzerland, has received positive attention among leading politicians and media in general," she said adding that the organising committee was encouraged by the appreciation expressed by the politicians, including from the members of the Foreign Affairs Committee (FAC) of the National Council of Switzerland.
While the main mobilisation in Switzerland is carried out by distributing pamphlets and through social media networking, in the Netherlands where the number of Eezham Tamils is comparatively small, organisers said they were engaged in door-to-door campaign, as they didn't have the coverage of any media outlet reaching the voters. The organisers of the referendum in Germany also relied upon grass root mobilisation, as access to audio-visual media outlets remain limited.
Meanwhile, the organisers in UK said they had successfully united all the main stakeholders among the Tamil community and were also relying upon media coverage from major media outlets that were operating from London. The referendum in UK will take place on 30th and 31st January.