Tamils call for genocide investigation

March 13 rally. Photo: Chris Slee

Despite the rain, about 50 people rallied outside the State Library on March 13 to call on the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to refer Sri Lanka to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for committing genocide against the Tamil people.

Similar rallies were held in Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth.

Tamils around the world organised protests to coincide with the February-March session of the United Nations Human Rights Council.

The main Tamil parties have issued a joint statement calling for Sri Lanka to be referred to the ICC over “genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity”.

The statement said: “The continuing and intensifying oppression against the Tamils including militarisation, indefinite detention of political prisoners, land grabs in the name of archaeological explorations, the denial of traditional, collective land rights like cattle grazing rights, intensifying surveillance of political and civil society activists, the denial of burial rights during COVID-19 to our Muslim brethren and the denial of the right to memory underscore the urgency of addressing the deteriorating situation.” 

At the Melbourne rally, speakers included Barathan Vidhyapathy from the Tamil Refugee Council, Apsara Sabaratnam from the Greens, Sue Bull from Socialist Alliance, Nalliah Suriyakumaran from the Darebin Ethnic Communities Council and Shankar Kasynathan (speaking in a personal capacity).

In addition to demanding justice for the victims of genocide in Sri Lanka, the speakers denounced the Australian government for its mistreatment of Tamil asylum seekers. Many have spent years in detention. Even when released into the community, many live in extreme poverty on temporary visas and face the threat of deportation.

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