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London protesters want international action, not words, over Sri Lankan humanitarian crisis

[TamilNet, Thursday, 07 May 2009, 11:26 GMT]
British Tamils demonstrating outside Parliament are demanding the UK government takes concrete action immediately “to end the humanitarian crisis engulfing the Tamils in Vanni and in the military-run concentration camps.” In a statement to media, Tamil students leading the protests said: “What is needed right now is action by the international community, not merely words of sympathy. Humanitarian intervention has taken place in many parts of the world to save people who have been subject to state violence, ethnic cleansing, and starvation by blockade. Powerful liberal states have acted to save populations being brutalized by their own states, despite the objections and obstructions of other powerful states. The Tamils of Sri Lanka are human beings too.”

The protestors, who have been in Parliament Square round the clock for almost a month, are demanding the British government leads the international community in immediate action to send desperately needed food and medicine to over 160,000 Tamil civilians surrounded and being bombarded by the Sri Lankan military and those being held in military-run concentration camps.

They say their ceaseless actions are intended to highlight the urgency of ending the humanitarian crisis engulfing the Tamils in Vanni and in the concentration camps.

In particular they are demanding the UK immediately takes all necessary steps to ensure humanitarian access to the conflict zone, including to those people in the Tamil Tiger (LTTE) controlled areas, and bring about a permanent ceasefire in Sri Lanka.

“Humanitarian intervention has taken place in many parts of the world to save people have been subject to state violence, ethnic cleansing, and starvation by blockade.”

“Powerful liberal states have acted to save populations being brutalized by their own states, despite the objections and obstructions of other powerful states. The Tamils of Sri Lanka are human beings too."

The students say the protests in London and elsewhere are emblematic of a unified Tamil demand for international action to save the Tamils in Sri Lanka from massacre and starvation, and to bring about a just solution that recognizes their nation’s rights.

The British Tamil community’s ceaseless protests have finally brought Sri Lanka's genocide against the Tamils into international arena, the students’ statement said.

“It is only because of the Diaspora that the international community is paying attention to the suffering of the Tamils in Sri Lanka.”

“Because of protests by Tamils in major Diaspora centres, along with those in Tamil Nadu, the unfolding catastrophe in Sri Lanka is reverberating in the region and around the world.”

“But what is needed right now is action by the international community, not merely words of sympathy.”

Last Thursday, a British Tamil student, Parameshwaran Subramaniam, broke his fast-unto-death on the 24th day, following assurances from the British government that concrete action would be taken within days. Parameshwaran called on the British Tamils to continue their protests until the safety and long term security of the Tamil people is assured.

The students protests and a hunger strike by Parameshwaran and another student, Siva, have led in the past weeks to meetings between delegations of British Tamil students and officials from the United States government, the European Union and the Commonwealth. A meeting with officials at the United Nations is scheduled to take place shortly.

The students say these meetings have provided welcome opportunities to explain their demands and to bring the Tamil people’s voice to centres of power. The government officials and policy makers the students met listened with interest and sympathized with their demands.

EU and Commonwealth officials told the student delegations there was widespread support amongst their member countries for key strong states that would take lead to protect the Tamils from Sri Lanka’s violence. Many European states would support British action, for example, they said.

Over a dozen EU states now want Sri Lanka to be placed on EU Council’s agenda, diplomatic sources told TamilNet Wednesday.

The students, “welcomed the seriousness with which the United States is taking the crisis in Sri Lanka and Washington’s emphasis that the country’s future unity depends on a just solution for the Tamils.”

In contrast, Britain and other important members of the international community were increasingly aware the horrific plight of the Tamils in Vanni, but they were not responding, they pointed out.

“The whole world is now well aware of the plight of the Tamils under the chauvinistic Sinhala-dominated Sri Lankan state. Hundreds of Tamils being massacred or starving to death each week, Sri Lanka’s slow genocide has is accelerating. Yet the continued inaction by some powerful states, while other states support Sri Lanka, is allowing this to continue,” Siva, said.

The Tamil protesters have vowed to continue their agitation until sympathy becomes concrete action by the international community to end the depeening crisis in Sri Lanka that is already having consequences in the region and well beyond.

 

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