Protests called against genocide in Sri Lanka

May 17, 2009

Rallies across Australia are planned for May 23 to call for an end to the Sri Lankan government's genocide against the Tamil people.

The protests will demand the Australian government condemns the Sri Lankan government's brutal offensive and applies diplomatic and economic pressure for a ceasefire.

A protest convoy of 150 cars descended on Parliament House in Canberra on May 12, demanding Australia take action to support the Tamils.

Tamil activist Adrian Francis told the ABC that "we haven't heard anything constructive" from the Australian government. "We've had people come out and talk to us in government rhetoric, that does nothing for us", Francis said.

"We need something concrete, we have basic demands, we need the Australian government to call for immediate and permanent ceasefire."

On May 11, 200 people attended a hastily organised protest vigil in Sydney's Martin Place. Tamil activist Sam Pari told the crowd that more than 2000 Tamil civilians had been killed by the Sri Lankan military in a single night on May 9.

The Sydney vigil was also addressed by Francis, NSW Greens parliamentarian Ian Cohen, NSW Fire Brigade Employees Union secretary Simon Flynn, and Green Left Weekly co-editor Stuart Munckton.

Another protest, of 1500 people, was held in Sydney on May 15. Protesters rallied outside the Channel 7 headquarters in Martin Place to denounce biased media coverage of the conflict.

Four hundred Tamils braved bad weather in Melbourne on May 9 to protest against the continuing genocide. On May 16, 600 attended a rally to highlight the systematic abuse of Tamil women by the Sri Lankan army. Speakers included Victorian postal union secretary Joan Doyle, and representatives from the Victorian rape crisis centre, the Socialist Alliance, and Radical Women.

Two Tamil women spoke about how the Sri Lankan army uses rape as a weapon of war.

[For details of rallies on May 23, see ad on page 13.]

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