Your silence pains us

The following open letter was sent to Greens Senator Bob Brown on April 16, the day before Brown met with Tamil hunger strikers.

***

I am a Tamil Australian mother of two, who fled Sri Lanka in the 1990s. I have relatives in the north and east of Sri Lanka.

Those who label us rebels and condemn our armed struggle don't want to even acknowledge the six young Tamil Australians who have taken up the extreme form of non-violent protest pioneered by Mahatma Gandhi — the hunger strike.

Besides, the Tamil freedom struggle of 60 years was non-violent for the first 30 years.

It saddens me greatly that no political representatives of any political affiliations have yet met the Tamil Australians fasting outside our prime minister's office.

They have been without food and water for five days — 125 hours! I have spoken to the youths and was surprised how mature they were, in addition to how distressed they were — about not being able to save their loved ones in a conflict zone where there are no international witnesses to report on the carnage.

No UN, no media, no aid agencies are allowed to operate in our (Tamil) areas. The government of Sri Lanka ordered all international bodies out of our regions so no one could report on its dirty work.

Present misconceptions:

1) "Use of human shields"

Those who accuse Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) of using human shields should call for international monitors to be sent to our regions immediately so the true situation can be assessed, and call for a referendum in our areas and listen to what our people have to say about who terrorises them and who is oppressing them, and who is fighting for the oppressed.

2) "Tiger flag"

The flag flown near the tent where the hunger strikers are, is technically the Tamil Eelam national flag. Not the LTTE flag. The LTTE flag has the words "Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam" in Tamil across the flag.

The Tiger as the Tamil Eelam national emblem represents a symbol rooted in indigenous Dravidian civilisation (Tamil). The Tiger symbol further signifies our struggle against Singala hegemony, oppression signified by the Lion holding a sword (Sri Lanka flag) and Sinhala chauvinism of a superior "Aryan race"!

Yours truly, Anu Prakash

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