About 400 Tamils gathered in the city square on July 25 to commemorate the death of an estimated 4000 people in the anti-Tamil riots that occurred throughout Sri Lanka in July 1983.
Anthony Gration, a Tamil broadcaster on community radio 3CR, reminded the audience that the riots were planned and instigated by the Sri Lankan government, the worst in a series of pogroms that uprooted a million Tamils. Today, he said, Tamils are suffering from a government military offensive and an economic blockade against their areas.
Gration argued that Tamils are a nation. This is denied by the Sri Lankan government, which refuses to recognise the democratic decision of the Tamils, who in 1977 voted overwhelmingly for candidates supporting a separate Tamil state.
Luke Donellan, a Victorian Labor MP, called on the "international community" to "step in and broker a peace agreement". Margarita Windisch, a Victorian Senate candidate for the Socialist Alliance, denounced the state terrorism of the Sri Lankan government and expressed solidarity with the Tamil struggle for a free homeland. She criticised the Australian government's collusion with the Sri Lankan government to criminalise the Tamil struggle, and called for the release of the three Tamil men recently arrested under Australia's "anti-terror" laws.