Rwandans, Kurds join Tamils commemorating massacre anniversary

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 25 May 2010, 03:38 GMT]
Armenian, Rwandan, Kurdish and the Native American communities joined Northern Californian Tamils in commemorating the first year anniversary of the Mu'l'livaikaal massacre of more than 40,000 Tamils by the Sri Lanka Security forces during the first five months of last year. The event held Saturday between 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. in Palo Alto California was attended by more than 150 people, organizers of the event said. The attendees wore a decal depicting the National flower of Tamil Eelam (Gloriosa superba), with the words “We Remember” written underneath, according to attendees to the event.

After a brief introduction and shared experience of working with the people of Vanni during the ceasefire by a local Tamil, several speakers shared the collective experiences of their communities in solidarity.

Mr.Vincent Mugabo, who left his native Rwanda to escape persecution of the Tutsis by the Hutu government and immigrated to the US during the 1994 genocide in which he lost several family members, addressed the commonality of the Tutsi experience with that of the Tamils in Sri Lanka.

Mr.David Ojakian
Mr.David Ojakian, of the Armenian Genocide Commemoration Committee of Northern California
Mr. Michael O’Rourke, director of Sri Lanka boycott video series
Mr. Michael O’Rourke, director of Sri Lanka boycott video series
Mr.Tony Gonzales, Director of the American  Indian Movement
Mr.Tony Gonzales, Director of the American Indian Movement
Vincent Mugabo
Vincent Mugabo, Tutsi escaped Rwandan genocide,
While highlighting the bad politics of the leaders after colonial times leading to the Genocide, Mr.Mugabo drew attention to the indifference of the international community to the Rwanda Genocide at the beginning as in the case for the Tamil Genocide in Sri Lanka.

Mr.David Ojakian, Chair of the Armenian Genocide Commemoration Committee of Northern California, spoke about his work with the Armenian community and its struggle for recognition of the Armenian genocide.

Mr. Ojakian drew on the similarities between the Tamil and Armenian Diaspora that had to flee their native homelands due to government endorsed killings. He further said “many correlations can be drawn between what happened in Mullivaikkal as more than 40,000 Tamils perished at the hands of the Sinhala regime and Sri Lankan forces and what happened to 1.5 million Armenians in the Ottoman Empire.

"First we see civil unrest leading to conflict and mass killings in the shadows of war; then we see government denial of the deliberate intent and actions to destroy in whole or in part the Tamil or Armenian population; and finally we see denial and struggle for recognition," Ojakian said.

Mr.Tony Gonzales, Director of the American Indian Movement and a United Nations Liaison officer, said “supporting and solidarity with the Tamil people is very important to us. I did not want to miss this occasion to extend my hand in deep friendship and solidarity with your struggle".

Gonzales then recited a prayer to strengthen the unity, and sang a song in the traditional language of the Lakota people “for people in particular who are in struggle and the sacrifice that we commit ourselves to” and spoke about the effects of colonization."

Mr. Michael O’Rourke who directed the boycottsrilanka viral video “No Blood for Panties," also spoke at the event. Mr. O’Rourke who is the co-founder Peace Through Technology Foundation, referring to the anti apartheid movement and how governments were shamed into action, highlighted the importance of 'conscious consumerism' when conducting boycott campaigns of garments made in Sri Lanka.

Videos of remembrance message from Fr. Emmanuel and an exclusive interview with Prof. Francis Boyle were also shown at the event.

The Tamil Remembrance Day events concluded with the participants joining the candle light vigil on Sri Lanka organized by the Amnesty International at Palo Alto's Lytton Plaza.


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