Sri Lanka is thought of as a tourist paradise, but when you move away from the hotels and beaches, a brutal ethnic and religious conflict between the Sinhalese and the Tamils has been smouldering on the island for over two decades.
This fratricidal war has made Sri Lanka a country marked by blood and suffering; its authorities try to keep the country’s history hidden. A war that remains unsettled, without attracting any media coverage whatsoever, not spoken about, ignored by the international community and by the disinterested powers who have failed to react to genocide. This war that has left a nation wounded, has divided families and has mutilated a population.
In the 1990s, members of the rebel group Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), now considered a terrorist organisation, demanded the creation of an independent Tamil Eelam, a state in the northern part of Sri Lanka. This sparked off a civil war lasting many years. When mass genocide killed most of the fighters on the battlefields, young, brave, idealistic women joined the army. They fought for their freedom, dignity and rights. Now they are haunted by the past, trying to face the difficulties of everyday life. In 2009, the rebellion was suppressed and the Sri Lankan authorities took control of the areas that the Tamils considered their own state. The women who survived the hell of the war have now found themselves in a new and equally complicated reality. They live, stigmatized and socially excluded in their own country. They look back melancholically, surrounded by visible scars of their history and the memories of their youth. The ruins of houses, overgrown by trees, tall grasses and the swept surface of water are all reflections of the past.
Abandoned Daughters of the Tiger is the story of the Tamils, the warriors, whether fighting on the battlefield or off it – rejected, pushed to the margins by the state and the system. They are women who were not given the opportunity to experience their youth, now left marked by the stigma of conflict, overlooked, unwanted and uncomfortable, still living in fear and left to deal with the trauma themselves. These are women who continue to fight for their right to exist with dignity, to understand and to live better lives for their children. This is the story of female Tigers, women of war, now haunted by their lingering memories.
Curator: Maja Kaszkur