March 2023 marks 200 years since the forced migration of Tamil plantation workers by the British empire from southern India to the upcountry region in Sri Lanka. To mark this event and to protest their still-marginalized and precarious status, plantation workers’ organizations are planning a march tracing their 19th century route from Mannar in north-western Lanka to Matale in the upcountry region.
When the British abolished slavery in 1833, new forms of bonded labor developed that tied workers to plantations and to their supervisors through a system of debt, in colonies from the Caribbean to Myanmar to Sri Lanka. Upon independence, upcountry Tamils were seen as foreigners, and denied citizenship, land and basic workers’ rights. In the years since, upcountry Tamils have continued to face difficulty in accessing citizenship and land rights, and have been subjected to periodic displacement, from recurring famine, riots, war, and constant poverty. Their history has been marked by economic precarity, marginalization by Sinhala majoritarian governments, and caste discrimination and alienation as Indian-origin Tamils within Lankan
In New York, SALAM gathers to commemorate this protest march and highlight the demands and history of upcountry Tamils, building progressive linkages across Sri Lanka, Tamil Nadu and the diaspora and build solidarities across communities with histories of indentured labor, from Sri Lanka to the Caribbean. In this digital exhibition, we present self-recorded videos and audio recordings of calls to action, reflections, and statements from those organizing and supporting the Mannar-Matale march in Sri Lanka.
Click on an image below to hear from comrades in Sri Lanka, and write to firstname.lastname@example.org to submit a message of solidarity, posted on our bulletin at the bottom of this page.
More text / video synthesis
summary of context/key points from videos
(why are we sharing testimonials and who from? What are the people on the ground asking for? And why are they asking for it?) --> watch the testimonials below (these next videos are testimonials first!!) then keep scrolling to see the other pieces?
More text on the categories below?
why we choose the categories, where we pulled references from...
On Labor & Work
On Race & Ethnicity
On Law & Citizenship
On Housing & Land
Look at these sources...