When a newly established group, Australians for Tamil Rights, began advertising a protest titled “Sri Lanka: Massacre of Tamils is just not cricket”, anti-Tamil Sinhalese went wild on Facebook with a campaign of vitriolic abuse. Most of the abusers denied that there had ever been a massacre of Tamils in Sri Lanka.
Despite the internet campaign against the November 3 protest, it went ahead outside the Melbourne Cricket Ground where Sri Lanka and Australia played a 20-20 cricket match.
One of the Sri Lankan cricketers, Ajantha Mendis, is a former artillery gunner in the Sri Lankan army.
The protest was highly visible with a Tamil woman in a cage, highlighting the 300,000 who were placed in internment camps after the Sri Lankan military crushed the Tamil resistance in 2009.
Most people were locked in the camps for more than 12 months, and at least 25,000 are still detained.
A coffin represented the 40,000 Tamil civilians killed in the final stages of the Sri Lankan army’s offensive.
Most of the cricket fans were Sri Lankan, and many disputed that there had been any massacre of Tamil civilians. This is similar to Nazi holocaust deniers or zionists who deny the dispossession of the Palestinian people.
Despite the deniers, many were interested in taking a leaflet to see what Australians for Tamil Rights had to say.
On November 5, Associate Professor Jake Lynch, director of the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Sydney said: “Until Sri Lanka agrees to an independent investigation into war crimes alleged to have been committed last year, it must be shunned by all international bodies.”
He drew attention to the precedent of England calling off its proposed cricket tour of Zimbabwe in 2009.
“Cricket is an important and cherished part of Australia’s culture but while the government of Sri Lanka continues to abuse human rights, and threaten journalists and aid workers who expose its excesses, the Sri Lankan cricket team should not be welcome here or in any country”, he said.