Tamil activist speaks on Sydney clashes

May 23, 2009

SYDNEY — Mohan Rajan, a young Tamil activist, told Green Left Weekly he was concerned that two violent incidents between the Tamil and Sinhalese communities in Sydney on May 18 "overshadowed the human catastrophe" in Sri Lanka.

On May 17, a group of Tamils who had just left a Hindu temple, where they had been attending to a young Tamil hunger striker, were set upon at Westmead station by carloads of Sinhalese youths. Later that night, there was a retaliatory attack on some Sinhalese youths.

The retaliatory attack received front-page news and
widespread radio coverage, unleashing a barrage of racism against the Tamil community.

On May 20, Tamil and Singhalese community leaders met with police and called for calm.

Rajan told GLW that the Tamil community did not condone violence, but explained that it happened as a result of the Sri Lankan government's "celebrations" of the defeat of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam on May 17. "These sporadic acts of violence are the catastrophic crossroads of joy and 'victory' by one community, versus the mourning and sorrow of another", he said.

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