Hundreds remember Black July in Australia

[TamilNet, Monday, 01 August 2011, 10:45 GMT]
Hundreds of Australian Tamils marched through Central Sydney this weekend to remember victims of Black July and urge support for an independent war crimes probe into the Mu'l'livaaykkaal massacre. Police closed major roads on Saturday as Australians from all walks of life joined members of the Tamil community to commemorate the event.

Politicians and representatives from various humanitarian and media organisations addressed the crowd, pointing to the immense loss of life and suffering enduring by thousands during the course of the conflict.

Federal Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon, recently given the Greens Sri Lankan portfolio after her continued lobbying for the rights of Eelam Tamils, urged activists to persist in their endeavours across the country.

Citing the anticipated visit of Mahinda Rajapaksa to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) to be held in Western Australia on October 28, Rhiannon said efforts were being made to explore possible legal avenues that could be taken to hold the president accountable once on Australian soil.

The airing of the Channel 4 documentary “Sri Lankas Killing Fields” by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in July has ignited national debate over the alleged war crimes carried out by Sri Lankan troops.

Australia’s close trade and sporting ties with the Sri Lankan establishment has been cited by media and activists in recent weeks as possible mechanisms of pressuring the current administration to allow investigations into human rights abuses.

TYO spokesperson Seran Sri Balan in his address questioned the effectiveness of legal instruments in response to the ongoing suppression of Eelam Tamils.

“Thousands of lives were lost in May 1983, a precursor for the many would likely be killed in the coming years, and to this day, not a single person has been held accountable for a single crime”.

Sri Balan called on global powers to acknowledge the ground situation experienced by thousands who had been living in the North East.

“Our people were willing to endure hell in order to live proudly under the flag of Eelam, refusing to cross to the enemy side even through those bloody final moments. Now men and women have been forced to succumb to this fate, languishing under enemy occupation, in enemy territory.

“The world must do everything it can to ensure that this does not continue longer then it has to” he continued.

Senthuran Raj, NSW president of Amnesty International Australia also echoed the growing concerns over the plight of civilians and the task that lay ahead for human rights activists in shedding light on the events that have unfolded in the North East.

Refugee Action Coalition spokesperson Mark Goudkamp highlighted the plight faced by thousands of Tamil asylum seekers who had sought refuge in Australia, many whom remain in detention centres around the country unsure of their fate.

Criticising the Australian Governments’ controversial new plan to send asylum seekers to Malaysia, Goudkamp also cited the discovery of Pattani Razik, an NGO worker whose body was found in a well in Kaavathumuna last week to illustrate the dangers faced by Tamil refugees sent back to Sri Lanka.

Peter Boyle, the National Convener of Socialist Alliance and a writer for the Green Left Weekly reflected on Black July commemorations of earlier years, before urging members of the community to remain vigilant and continue to bring attention to the situation faced by Tamils currently living under occupation.

Federal Australian Labor Party (ALP) member Michelle Rowland MP, in a statement read out on her behalf, extended her condolences to the thousands of Australian Tamils directly affected by the war and its aftermath, before urging her own government to “join other western nations in pushing for an international independent investigation into war crimes in Sri Lanka."

Over 1000 copies of the Channel 4 documentary were handed out to members of the public in a bid to increase exposure of the shocking vision.



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