OF THIS SECTION
நினைவாக "சாவிலும் வாழ்வோம்" நினைவு கூரல், 22 July 2007
Switzerland - Press Conference on Humanitarian Disaster on
Sri Lanka, 11 June 2007
Tamils March towards United Nations, Geneva
- 11 June 2007
in Swiss German
Young Tamils in
Switzerland Commemorate 32nd Death Anniversary of
First Tamil Martyr, Urumpirai Sivakumaran, 10 June 2006
Swiss Tamils look to
preserve their culture
18 February 2006
Tigers in the Alps
- Ramachandra Guha in Himal South Asia, May 2003
Switzerland: A Tamil
Asylum Diaspora - Urmila Goel, 2001
Tamil Electronic Library - Dr.K.Kalyanasundaram
Geneva Tamil Suvadi
Tamil Youth Organisation,
Jaffna Hindu College Old Boys Association, Switzerland
Temple, Glattbrugg, Switzerland
Federation of Tamils, Geneva, Switzerland
The Alps Koothadigal -
நாடகக் கல்லூரி பற்றிய விவரணப் படம் - Anton Ponraj
"'Alps Koothadigal' is a documentary about
Sri Lankan Tamil
theatre activities in Switzerland. ...the Sri Lankans stage
dramas to express their views about the ethnic crisis in Sri Lanka
and they have taken the drama medium, as plays have wide reach in
the international arena...
- an estimated 40,000 Tamils live in Switzerland -
Tamils in Switzerland Demonstrate in Berne
in Support of Struggle for Tamil Eelam, 29 May 2006
[see also Tamils demonstrate in
சுவிஸ் பேர்ண் தலைநகரில் நடைபெற்ற
ஐ.பி.சி தமிழின் இன்னிசைக் குரல் 2005-ன்
Tamils Rehabilitation Organisation
Swiss TRO assists 26 Volunteers from Switzerland to help the displaced in
Tamil Eelam, 9 January 2005
Educational Project in Information Technology for Homeland
தாயகத்திற்கான சுவிஸ்தமிழர் கணனித்தகவல் தொழில்நுட்பக்கல்வித்திட்டம் முலம்
உங்களை வரவேற்பதில் பெருமகிழ்ச்சியடைகின்றோம்
பின்தங்கிய பிரதேச மாணவர்களுக்கு கணனிக்கல்வியைக்கற்பித்தலும் தொடர்ந்து
Fall of Elephant Pass, May 2000
Swiss Tamils March in Support of LTTE
Swiss Tamils Rally in Support of
Struggle for Tamil Eelam, Geneva
Swiss Tamils look to preserve
18 February 2006, Swissinfo
Tamils first came to Switzerland in the 1980s as refugees
fleeing civil war in Sri Lanka and now make up a sizeable
community in the country.
Although they encountered prejudices at first, Tamils are
now regarded as having adapted well to their new home. But
they are still not fully integrated.
In 1983 the Tamil Tigers group began fighting for a separate
homeland for ethnic Tamils in Sri Lanka, claiming
discrimination by the majority Sinhalese. The conflict
escalated and many Tamils fled abroad to Europe and North
An estimated 35,000 Tamils now live in Switzerland, of which
ten per cent are naturalised Swiss. The ex-pat community is
now one of the largest after those in Canada, Germany and
However, the arrival of Tamils in the mid-1980s was not
without consequences. The authorities were forced to set up
a special refugee authority in 1986 to cope with the
unprecedented deluge of Tamil asylum seekers. Prejudice and
xenophobia were also commonplace.
"The reception was very harsh, very aggressive, and for us
it was also the first time we had been to Europe and
experienced the cold snow," said Anton Ponrajah, the head of
the Swiss Federation of Tamil Associations. "For both sides
it was a difficult situation." He said that some Swiss
distrusted the Tamils' motives at first.
"In earlier times, when we were in the asylum centres,
people thought we were taking their tax money... but later
on the government allowed the refugees to work in
Switzerland and this tendency changed," he told swissinfo.
The Tamil population have built up a reputation as good
workers, particularly in the hotel and catering industry,
which has helped integration.
The community is also well organised. In some cities there
are regular showings of Tamil-language films, Tamil
newspapers are freely available and there are now more than
20 Hindu ? the main Tamil religion - temples and a string of
grocery shops across the country.
But appearances can be deceptive, warns Damaris Lüthi, an
ethnologist at Bern University, who has just published a
study on Tamil integration in Switzerland. Lüthi says that
from a structural point of view, Tamils are well integrated.
They know how to negotiate the education and health systems
and the workplace. But she says socially and culturally it's
a different story. Contact tends to take place within the
community and Sri Lankan values are still valid, especially
for the first generation.
"The confrontation [between their values and those of]
Switzerland and the West in general is still difficult,"
Lüthi told swissinfo. "Even for those who have lived
in Switzerland for 20 years, alcohol consumption, divorce
and sex outside marriage, for example, are still very
stigmatised and considered to be immoral."
The second generation is better integrated but many still
subscribe to the old ways, even if they have no intention of
returning to Sri Lanka, says Lüthi.
This can be seen in attitudes towards marriage. Most
weddings still take place between people of the same social
caste ? despite moves in Sri Lanka to outlaw the
caste-system. "If two young people from different castes get
married, they are often isolated," Lüthi explained. "And
even when love marriages are spoken of, they are normally
between the same caste." Unions between Tamils and
Swiss are very rare. At the end of 2004, of the 18,000
people of Sri Lankan origin who married in that year, only
521 wed a Swiss.
"These types of marriages are not well accepted," said Lüthi,
citing several examples of when Tamil families have cut ties
with their children for marrying outside the community.
For Ponrajah, integration is still an ongoing process. "It's
not a tablet that you can swallow and it will work - it will
take time to understand each other. This is the basic thing