Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Tamil solidarity fast in Perth

Beginning Friday evening April 5, outside the Wesley Church in the centre of Perth, protesters began a "24hr fast in Solidarity" with the Tamil Nadu Hunger Strikers in India.

The Tamil Nadu students embarked on a hunger strike in protest against the weak wording of the US led draft resolution on Sri Lanka at the 22nd UN Human Rights Council session.

The students demand:
  • An independent International inquiry into alleged war crimes, monitored by the UN;
  • A UN-led referendum (amongst the Tamil Diaspora and Tamil people living in the Northern and Eastern provinces of the island of Sri Lanka) for an independent Tamil homeland;
  • Economic sanctions imposed by UN-members states against Sri Lanka.

The fast was well received by the Perth public and tourists. I was surprised how many people knew of the atrocities committed by the Rajapaksa regime and the actions of Sri Lankan High commissioner to Australia, Thisara Samarasinghe.

On seeing the 30 to 40 protesters camped on the busy street corner a child asked her mother "What's going on here?" Her mother replied succinctly "Their people are being killed by other people."

The Australian government should follow the lead of the Canadian government by boycotting the next Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) which is scheduled to be held in Sri Lanka later this year. We should be shaking the hands of refugees and welcoming them to our community, not shaking the hands of the tyrants who repress them.

[Report by Garry Holliday (pictured) for Socialist Alliance and Green Left Weekly.]