The interactive panel discussion on the United Nation’s OISL report and the UNHRC resolution on Sri Lanka, organised by Liberation on 14 November, was well attended with a full room activists interested in gaining justice for Tamils. The panel consisted of four speakers: Sonya Sceats, from Freedom from Torture; Margaret Owen, from Widows for Peace through Democracy; Senthan Selvarajah, speaking on the role of the media in seeking justice in Sri Lanka; and TU Senan, from the Tamil Solidarity campaign.
Reported by Bharathi
Many interesting and important points were raised by the panellists, notably by Sonya, which were useful in gaining an in-depth analysis of the issues. Meanwhile, Senthan rightfully pointed out that the media have a key role in shaping how people perceive conflicts, although it is true to say that the owners of the media heavily influence what coverage is given, and often reflect the policy priorities of those with major interests in any particular area. For example, the western powers’ geopolitical interests in Sri Lanka.
Margaret spoke of the dangers facing victims who come forward as witnesses in front of any investigation by the Sri Lankan regime and/or the UN. She highlighted that it was particularly difficult for women who have faced violence and torture to have to relive that terrible experience. Senan outlined Tamil Solidarity’s programme for taking the struggle forward and continuing to build a strong grassroots campaign.
Tamil Solidarity welcomes the opportunity to speak at events such as these, to engage with other activists on the way forward for Tamil rights, and the rights of other oppressed people. There is clearly a desire for such discussion among the Tamil diaspora and Tamils living in Lanka. This is particularly important now that we are quite far from the ‘2009 period’, and when the level of struggle appears low – although that is partly an illusion created by the lack of effective campaigning activity by some diaspora organisations. There are certainly many issues which need to be taken up urgently and campaigned on.
Judging by the sales of Tamil Solidarity publications, and the lively discussion around the ideas we raised, we are confident that the campaign will continue to go forward. Events such as these also show the potential of working alongside other groups, such Tamils for Corbyn, and other campaigns with a clear anti-cuts programme on the welfare system and against attacks on the working people, students and oppressed layers of society in Britain.
Tamil Solidarity’s stand on the findings of the UNHCR resolution and OISL report has been clear for a long time. We predicted and warned in advance that the UN would never do justice to Tamils. Although we support the call for investigations on the war crimes committed, this alone will not bring justice to the victims. This is why we call for an independent investigation. That would need to comprise of elected members of the victims, their families, workers, students and oppressed layers of society. As opposed to an international investigation that would comprise of representatives of countries which have economic and strategic interests in Sri Lanka, and will only act on behalf of theses interests. We cannot expect criminals and their accomplices to investigate their own crimes!
We look forward to further discussion and debate on this important issue. And on the many other issues affecting Tamil communities in Sri Lanka, and in Britain.