Protesters in New Delhi, Bangalore and Chennai joined hundreds of others around the world on 8 April demanding an immediate ceasefire and end to the slaughter of Tamil civilians in Sri Lanka. (In London, thousands of Tamils have been occupying Parliament Square for days. Eds.)
At a rally here in Delhi, at Jantar Mantar, eminent citizens, students and activists accused the Sri Lankan government of Mahinda Rajapakse of throttling democracy in his country while carrying out war crimes against the minority Tamil population under the guise of a ‘war on terror’. Similar protests were held in other parts of Asia, Europe and North America (reports on the campaign website).
Rally at Jantar Mantar, Delhi
Speakers at the demonstration expressed deep concern for the safety of over 150,000 Tamil civilians trapped in a 20 sq. km. stretch of land and coming under severe fire from Sri Lankan armed forces targeting Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) cadres allegedly hiding in their midst.
In the past few days of fighting serious allegations, though unconfirmed, have been made about the use of banned chemical weapons by the Sri Lankan army against both the LTTE fighters and Tamil civilians in the area. The protesters called for an international investigation of these charges, which constitute war crimes if proved to be true.
United Nations and other international agencies monitoring the conflict have put the number of civilians killed in the last two months of fighting at anywhere from 2,000 to 10,000, with around 50 to 70 persons getting killed every day. Over 40,000 civilians who crossed over to government-controlled areas have been put in special ‘welfare villages’ that have been accused of being run like concentration camps, with no access to relatives and friends and with no right to leave the barbed wired camps strictly controlled by the Sri Lankan military.
“The Rajapaksa regime has gone on a wild spree abducting, arbitrarily arresting, resorting to extra-judicial killings and forcing disappearances of not only Tamil youth but also Sinhala and Muslim citizens who chose to oppose their repressive war”, said Siritunga Jayasuriya, veteran Sri Lankan politician and General Secretary of the United Socialist Party in a statement released at the Jantar Mantar protest (carried on stoptheslaughteroftamils.org). He said that in the last two years alone 19 journalists have been abducted and more than 9 killed, making Sri Lanka the 4th most dangerous country for journalists to work in.
The Campaign to End the War and Fight for Democracy in Sri Lanka, which organised the international protest will continue to demand:
An immediate end to the military operations in Sri Lanka, withdrawal of the army from all Tamil areas and closure of detention camps
Provision of basic needs of food, shelter, health to Tamil civilians under the control of their own elected representatives;
An immediate end to military and commercial support for the Sri Lankan regime by western countries and by India, China, Pakistan, Israel, Iran, Japan and other countries
Restoration of democratic rights for all throughout Sri Lanka.
Defend the Right to self-determination