The statement below was read out at a May 16 rally in Melbourne, called to denounce the Sri Lankan government's brutal war against the Tamils.
Both [Victoria] Trades Hall Council Executive and Australian Education Union (AEU) Branch Council have declared their solidarity with the Australian Tamil community in its total opposition to the racist military invasion of their territories in the north and east of Sri Lanka.
Both have recognised that all across Sri Lanka, Tamils have struggled against genocide, dispossession and marginalisation since independence in 1948. We know that Tamils continue to fight for control over their own lands, for the survival of their cultures and languages, and for lives of dignity and freedom.
We support the right of Tamils to self-determination and we condemn the ongoing military onslaught and indiscriminate bombardment by Sri Lankan armed forces in the north of Sri Lanka.
Of recent times it has become clear that, as with many wars and invasions, women and children are bearing the brunt of the attacks on the Tamil people by the Sri Lankan Army.
It is wrong that rape and assault and violence on women are used as weapons of war.
Both Trades Hall and the AEU call on the Australian government to:
•Facilitate an immediate ceasefire in Sri Lanka.
•Object to the forceful movement of internally displaced people out of areas where they feel most secure.
•Facilitate access to humanitarian and medical aid to people in the affected areas.
We especially call for the government to object to the abuse of women and children.
Ann Taylor (deputy president Australian Education Union (Victorian Branch) and immediate past president, Victorian Trades Hall Council).