Unprecedented Tamil Protests in Australia

[TamilNet, Sunday, 19 April 2009, 09:26 GMT]
The hunger strike by 6 Tamils in Australia, calling for the immediate halt of atrocities against Tamils in Sri Lanka that began on the 11th of April 2009 at 5:00 p.m. was concluded April 17 with an unprecedented rally in the capital city of Canberra where more than 8500 diaspora Tamils took part. A long time peace activist, Lara Pullin, who came to see the hunger strikers said, “The rallies by the Tamils have gathered the same momentum that I saw during pre East Timor independence time and Anti-apartheid movement; one gets the feeling that Tamils have come to a stage where they are saying ‘Enough is Enough’ ”, sources in Canberra said.

Canberra Rally
4 hunger strikers outside DFAT office, one collapsed and another negotiating, Canberra Rally


The youths on hunger strike had put forward four basic demands:
  • Immediate ceasefire

  • Allow food, medicine and aid into the conflict zone

  • Allow medical & other vital services into the conflict zone

  • Allow the Tamil people, both in the conflict zone and those indefinitely detained in concentration camps, to decide independently where they wish to reside.



The hunger strike and the continuous protest started in Paramatta, Sydney and then proceeded to Prime Minister’s residence where hundreds of protesters stayed the whole night outside Kiribilli House without relenting to police pressure.

After receiving unprecedented media coverage, the hunger strikers and protesters moved to Canberra where they were joined by hunger strikers from Melbourne.

During the rally in Canberra, the extremely weakened hunger strikers in wheel chairs and more than 8500 protesters coming from more than 5 different states marched to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).

Following a visit by Senator Bob Brown and assurances from the DFAT of the hunger strikers and protesters concluded the 6 day protest.

One of the hunger strikers collapsed during the rally and was taken away in an ambulance.

The hunger strikers and protesters vowed more action to come.

Canberra Rally
Crowd outside the DFAT
Canberra Rally
Canberra Rally
Canberra Rally
One hunger striker addressing the crowd.
Canberra Rally
Collapsed hungerstriker being taken away by paramedics.

 

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