Cricket is helping this team of Srilankan asylum seekers forget the bruises of war and develop a strong sense of community in Brisbane Region.
A shared love of cricket is helping a team of Sri Lankan asylum seekers break down barriers and build relationships in Australia, even among some of the most fervent supporters of the country’s hard-line immigration policies.
This Brisbane based team named ‘Brisbane Cool Boys’ consisting of asylum seekers from Srilanka. The team has got everyone’s attention with their recent victory at the Last Mans Stand (LMS) tournament. They are placed No.1 in Brisbane, No. 4 in Australia and 14th worldwide. Sure, their performance has turned heads and support from the local cricket community.
Dinesh, the Captain of the team, frequently refers the team to be from ‘Tamil Eelam’ and aims to develop this team further. His goal is to build this team Tamil Eelam National Team and brand to get it affiliated with various international cricket organizations like LMS.
The term, with ‘Eelam’ meaning ‘Home’ in Tamil language, is largely associated with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
The LTTE, commonly known as the Tamil Tigers, were fighting for an independent state from 1983, and were finally defeated in 2009. According to UN reports, the then current Sri Lankan Government was purposefully targeting civilians, humanitarian aid objects and critics of the Government both within and outside the conflict zone. About 100,000 people are believed to have lost their lives in the conflict.
Though numbers of civilian casualties remain disputed, with figures ranging from 9,000 to 40,000 put forwards by the Sri Lankan Government and the UN respectively. However, evidence reveals that the abuse of Tamils by Sri Lankan authorities did not end with the war and continues today. U.N. rights watchdog called on Sri Lanka on Wednesday to investigate “routine torture” of detainees by security forces and rebuked its government for failing to prosecute war crimes committed during the country’s 26-year civil war. United Nations Committee against Torture cited continuing reports of abductions of people disappearing into “white vans”, deaths in custody, poor conditions of detention and the use of forced confessions in court for anyone the government feels might have links with the vanquished separatist movement.
Dinesh says that cricket seems to be the medicine for the wounds of war. He says that when their team sets foot on the ground, they get the sense of community and tend to forget what happened back in Srilanka.
Though they are far away from the war-ravaged country, Cricket seems to the only hope for them to help forget the scars of war.