For freedom of speech and the right to protest
Against Sri Lanka state oppression
On Friday 9 February 2018 the Facebook page of the Tamil Solidarity campaign was shut down.
This followed a peaceful protest organised by Tamil Solidarity and other Tamil community groups against the threatening behaviour of a Sri Lankan Army brigadier, and against the ongoing oppression of Tamil-speaking people in Sri Lanka.
In shutting down Tamil Solidarity’s page, Facebook has shut down freedom of speech and shut down the right to protest. It is unacceptable and we demand that our Facebook page is reinstated immediately.
It would appear that Facebook’s action followed a malicious campaign by Sinhala nationalists – supporters of Sri Lankan state oppression. But surely there must be some process whereby Facebook tests such allegations – completely false in this case – before such drastic action is taken.
Facebook made no attempt to contact Tamil Solidarity to check out the claims being made against us. Yet just a glance at our website www.tamilsolidarity.org would be enough to show that Tamil Solidarity is a legitimate campaigning organisation, with the backing of numerous trade unions in Britain and which works alongside activists from other oppressed communities, including the Refugee Rights campaign.
Furthermore, the by-line of Tamil Solidarity reads: ‘For the rights of workers and all oppressed people in Sri Lanka.’ That means that we not only take up issues concerning Tamils, but also Tamil Muslims, Upcountry people, and workers and students from the majority Sinhala population – from Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, Christian or any other ethnic/religious background.
Of course, given the scale of the oppression in Sri Lanka, the campaign for Tamil rights is our main focus. After all, Tamils were massacred in their tens of thousands at the end of the civil war in 2009. Hundreds of thousands were then held in open prison camps. Thousands are still imprisoned. Thousands have been disappeared. There is an effective military occupation in the north and east of Sri Lanka. There has been no genuine investigation of war crimes allegations and widespread abuse of power continues with impunity.
This has all been well documented and condemned by the United Nations, Human Rights Watch, the International Committee of the Red Cross and many other agencies. It has been exposed in numerous Channel 4 documentaries, by the Guardian newspaper and in countless other media reports. Tamil Solidarity has every right to speak out against this injustice and oppression.
There is no justification for the Facebook ban.
We demand our democratic right to free speech!
We demand our democratic right to protest!
Tamil Solidarity’s Facebook page must be reinstated immediately.