Simultaneous protests were held in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and other parts of the world in solidarity with over 250 Tamil-speaking refugees who fled the war and repression in Sri Lanka. For over 100 days they have been forced to stay on a small boat with no adequate facilities, since the Indonesian navy intercepted them in October.
Tamil Solidarity lobbied the Australian embassy in London on 18 January. Protesters met a senior council officer to hand over protest letter and explained the situation.
They said it is not acceptable for the Australian government to merely watch these people suffer right at its border and do nothing about it. They also brought the fact that the Australian government is responsible for these refugees, as they pay the Indonesian government to intercept and detain refugees in a shameful scheme called ‘Indonesian solution’, to the officer’s attention.
The protesters highlighted the conditions of the children on the boat. The placards and leaflets carried a picture of the letter written by a 12 year-old boy, Thiyananthan. Due to inadequate sanitation and very poor quality food these children are suffering from horrific rashes and deteriorating conditions. Everyone on the lobby vowed to continue their protest until the Asylum claims of the refugees have been granted and they are safe and able to live a normal life. Until then the protests will and must grow.