New Zealand: March against massacre of Tamils

February 13, 2009

On February 4, Auckland's Tamil community held a demonstration against the Sri Lankan Army's (SLA) massive onslaught the Tamil people in the north of Sri Lanka. The day is Sri Lanka's independence day.

Over the past month, hundreds of Tamils have been killed as the SLA mercilessly shells and bombs cities and towns controlled by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Around 300,000 civilians are trapped in the jungles of north-east Sri Lanka, unable to return to their homes.

The Sri Lankan government has declared this to be the "final assault" on the LTTE, with no possibility of peace talks or a negotiated settlement.

Arriving at Aotea Square just after 3pm, I was surprised to see that a crowd of 200-300 people, mostly Tamil, had already gathered despite the march not being scheduled to start until 5pm.

One demonstrator held a large sign reading "Gaza and Sri Lanka are on the same planet. UN can't you see us?". Members of the Tamil Youth Organisation distributed a book of harrowing testimonies of Auckland Tamils about the killings of family members in Sri Lanka by the SLA.

At 5pm the crowd, which had since grown larger, marched down Queen Street to chants of "Sri Lankan Army stop killing Tamils" and "New Zealand help us".

A representative of the Tamil Youth Organisation spoke at the protest. Other speakers included John Minto from Global Peace and Justice Auckland, Maire Leadbeater from the Indonesia Human Rights Committee and Dr Rasalingham and Mr Sundarajan from the Tamil community.

Addressing the protest, I stated: "While committing all these atrocities how does the Sri Lankan government and its Western backers, such as the US, Britain and Israel have the audacity to call the Tamil people terrorists?"

Protests were also held on February 4 in cities across Canada. On February 12, Tamils in Singapore protested against media bias in reporting the conflict.

[A longer version of this article can be read at]

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