Souls of a Homeland
Pattabi Raman captures the lives of displaced and rehabilitated Tamilians in the aftermath of the Sri Lankan Civil War.
This story was originally published in March 2013.
The Sri Lankan Civil War began in 1983, when the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), a separatist military organisation, rebelled against the government for an independent Tamil state. In 2009, after 26 long years, the Sri Lankan military defeated the Tamil Tigers, bringing an end to the Civil War. In the meanwhile, Tamil residents of the north and eastern provinces of the island nation were badly affected. Physical, cultural and human losses surmounted in the Tamil colonies. The bloodbath killed over 90,000 people, predominantly civilians. More than a year after the war ended, almost half of the Tamilians were displaced, and had to make a livelihood for themselves. This issue has been close to me for the longest. After the war ended, I approached the Sri Lankan government for a possibility to photograph the aftermath for The New Indian Express’ Sunday paper. They agreed, and the week-long assignment turned into a project that has been ongoing for the last two-and-a-half years.
Tips for Making Photographs in Conflict Areas
- If you must photograph high security zones, take appropriate permissions from the proper authorities.
- Prepare a mental script to visualise the story you want to tell.
- Split your project into different phases and analyse it yourself, as well as discuss with peers and academicians who know the issue in depth.
- Never underestimate any minorities, especially those who have faced conflict over the years. They keenly follow all national affairs—so be prepared with enough knowledge about the issue.