More than 500 people attended the launch of the Victorian chapter of the Australian Tamil Congress (ATC) on August 15.
Dr Sri Srithar told the meeting that the struggle for national self-determination for the Tamil people of Sri Lanka must take a new form. From the 1950s-'80s, the Tamils engaged in peaceful, democratic struggle. From the 1980s to 2009, they carried on an armed struggle.
Now, following their military defeat, the Tamils inside Sri Lanka are in a weak position. More than 300,000 of them are imprisoned in concentration camps. It is now up to the Tamil community internationally to take the struggle forward.
Srithar outlined the immediate issues the ATC would campaign around, including the demand for unrestricted access to the camps for non-government organisations, the United Nations, and the media; for ex-combatants to be treated according the Geneva Convention; and for the resettlement of the displaced people to their original houses.
A number of other Tamil speakers addressed the meeting, and there were performances of Tamil music, dancing and poetry. Trent Hawkins gave greetings on behalf of the Socialist Alliance. He said it would continue to support the struggle for Tamil rights, as it has done in the past.
A written message of support from ALP state MP Luke Donnellan was read to the meeting.