Tamils rallied on May 15 to commemorate the massacre of tens of thousands of Tamils by the Sri Lankan armed forces in Mullivaikkal in the north of the island of Sri Lanka in May 2009.
Tamil activist Prasanth said war criminals remain in Sri Lanka’s leadership today. Tamil areas are under military occupation, with one soldier stationed for every six civilians.
Pushpa, a Tamil woman refugee, spoke about the hardship of living in Australia for 11 years without a permanent visa.
Jack Howard, a union activist, criticised the federal government for its collaboration with the “genocidal” Sri Lankan army and its harsh treatment of refugees, including Tamils.
He criticised Labor, which promised permanent visas for 19,000 refugees on temporary protection visas, but is leaving 12,000 others to remain in limbo.
Howard spoke of the great role Tamils are playing in unions and building the Migrant Workers Centre.
Sanmarti Verma, a Tamil lawyer who represents refugees, spoke of the links between the struggles of First Nations people in Australia and the struggles of Tamils in Sri Lanka.
She also said that under the government’s unfair “Fast Track” system Tamil asylum seekers have only a 4% success rate to be recognised as refugees.
The rally marched into the nearby Melbourne Central shopping centre where protesters took their message to shoppers.
Zebedee Parkes reports that Tamil speakers called for permanent protection for refugees, not deportations, and for the Australian government to stop supporting the Sri Lankan government at a protest in Gadi/Sydney on the same day.