Melbourne, Sydney Tamils stage protests, vigils

[TamilNet, Sunday, 02 November 2008, 09:26 GMT]
Australian Tamils continued silent vigils in Sydney Friday 31st October to highlight the plight of the displaced Tamil people, and protests in Melbourne Saturday against the Sri Lankan State sponsored genocide of Tamils in the Northeast.

More than 600 Tamils assembled at the Federation Square in Melbourne at 2:00 p.m. and walked through the city covering more than 3 km. Meanwhile, in Sydney Tamil constituents of the electorate of Bennelong and their friends gathered in front of the electorate office of Maxine McKew, the Member of Parliament for the electorate and held a silent vigil for more than two hours from 11:00 a.m.

The Sydney event was the third in the series of silent vigil being organised by the Australian federation of Tamil Associations (AFTA), the body representing the Eelam Tamils of Australia and New Zealand, according to AFTA officials.

In the submission made to the Prime Minister through Hon Ms. McKew, AFTA has requested the PM to use his good office to have the Sri Lankan Conflict discussed as an Agenda item at the next Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) and promote an active role for The Commonwealth to act swiftly to:

  • end the genocide of a people who lived with dignity and in security as a sovereign people in the island of Sri Lanka prior to the advent of colonial rule and
  • help find a lasting political solution that recognizes the right to self-determination of the Tamil people.

In the Melbourne protest, Chris Slee of Green Left Weekly addressed the participants on the legitimacy of the Tamils' struggle for self-determination, and Trent Hawkins of Resistance spoke of the need for international governments to place more pressure on the Sri Lankan regime.

Highlighting the worrying similarity between 1994 Rwanda and today's Sri Lanka, a Tamil Youth Organisation representative said, "In Rwanda, the genocide happened just after the UN left the country. In Sri Lanka, the UN left the Tamil areas in September this year."


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