Proud to support Tamil self-determination

Issue 

As an alternative newspaper, based in grassroots, progressive political movements, Green Left Weekly aims to be a thorn in the side of the corporate media here in Australia and globally.

GLW is a paper that takes an uncompromising stand against war, racism, exploitation and environmental destruction.

As such, we strongly oppose the brutal oppression of the Tamil minority in Sri Lanka, including the current genocidal war being waged by the Sri Lankan Army (see back cover article).

In response to our stand, the pro-government media in Sri Lanka has sought to demonise GLW. We strongly reject slanderous articles that have recently appeared in the Sri Lankan newspaper The Daily Mirror and the Sinhalaya News Agency that imply GLW is a supporter of terrorism.

This method of seeking to intimidate and discredit critics is not new. It is also used by supporters of states such as Israel against those who speak out against its criminal treatment of Palestinians.

The libel is a consequence of our ongoing coverage of the brutality of the Sri Lankan government's war against the Tamil minority. GLW has been targeted due to our support of the Tamil people's right to national self-determination.

Since the beginning of 2009 alone, the Sri Lankan government and its armed forces have killed more than 2000 Tamil civilians — a death toll greater than what Israel inflicted on the population of Gaza in January.

The Sri Lankan government's cruel violence has been aided by diplomatic, economic and military support from most Western governments, including the US and Australia.

This support is facilitated by the corporate media who largely base what little coverage they give to the conflict on propaganda from the Sri Lankan government and military.

Typically, the crimes of the Sri Lankan state are minimised, if reported at all, while Tamil resistance is labelled as terrorist.

We will continue to denounce Sri Lankan army atrocities such as the bombing of hospitals and the targeting of civilians in what the government has itself declared to be "safe zones".

We will continue to report the air strikes and artillery attacks on Tamil areas — including the use of cluster bombs and white phosphorus.

We utterly reject the accusations made by the Sinhalaya News Agency and the Daily Mirror that opposing these crimes makes GLW a mouthpiece of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), who have waged a decades-long armed struggle for independence.

GLW does not preach armed struggle in Sri Lanka. However, we do seek to explain the causes of the conflict.

In Sri Lanka, the majority of Tamils favoured non-violent methods of political struggle to resolve their grievances until 1983, when government-sponsored anti-Tamil pogroms took more than 3000 lives.

We argue that the path the peace is justice, and this requires ending the oppression of Tamils and the violent repression that accompanies it.

While GLW is attacked with words, those sections of the Sri Lankan press that defy the Sri Lankan government do so at the risk of their lives.

Media outlets critical of government policies have been bombed. Dissenting journalists have been assassinated, abducted and tortured.

Freeourpress.org records 23 murders of journalists by the Sri Lankan military and government-linked paramilitary groups in the past five years.

These attacks on Sri Lankan journalists have been condemned by the International Federation of Journalists and Human Rights Watch.

GLW also disputes the legitimacy of Australia's "anti-terror" laws that are currently being used to intimidate Tamil activists here. The same laws also criminalise activists from other countries supporting independence struggles.

The LTTE is not a proscribed organisation in Australia. However, Australian Tamils are being prosecuted for allegedly supporting the LTTE.

We support the calls from human rights organisations from around the world for the Sri Lankan government to sign a ceasefire with the LTTE. This should be followed by negotiations to allow the people of Tamil Eelam a free and democratic decision on whether or not to choose independence.

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