Following are a selection of the letters of condemnation sent from around the world.
1.Socialist Students and Youth Fight for Jobs
To the embassies of the United Kingdom, Sri Lanka, Australia and Indonesia
Socialist Students and Youth Fight for Jobs view with great alarm the developments of the last few days in relation to the Tamil refugees who are imprisoned on a boat in the Indonesian port of Merak. The view of your government seems to be that these refugees will come to no harm if they return to Sri Lanka. These desperate people have taken flight from the hellish aftermath of a brutal war conducted by the Sri Lankan government. Now thousands of Tamils are interned in camps in horrific conditions and subject to interrogation. We condemn the lies of UK government minister Des Browne who recently reported that the situation facing the Tamil population was adequate.
The Australian government says much the same and hands over more than a billion dollars to the Sinhala chauvinist Rajapkse dictatorship. The Indonesian government has deployed the navy once again to prevent any more visits to the refugees’ boat or negotiations through international bodies like United Nations Human Rights’ Commission. Young people and students find the callous actions of your governments disgraceful. We will campaign and raise this issue in all our activities.
Socialist Students is an organisation present in hundreds of universities and colleges across the UK.
The Youth Fight for Jobs campaign is supported by the trade unions the RMT, PCS and CWU, student unions and youth organisations. We are affiliated with the international campaign Tamil Solidarity.
Matt Dobson Socialist Students National Organiser
Sean Figg Youth Fight for Jobs National Organiser
Dear Mr Browne
I am writing to you in your capacity as British Special Envoy to Sri Lanka regarding the Tamil refugees currently stranded off the coast of Australia. They are being denied their rights to asylum after fleeing the desperate situation in Sri Lanka at the present time.
You made a big mistake when you said “We take the view that it is safe to return people, including Tamils, to Sri Lanka”. This is clearly far from being the case as the current situation in the camps and worrying media reports of Human Rights violations and summary executions demonstrate.
These refugees are victims of the Sri Lankan government’s chauvinist policies and human rights violations. Now the so-called international community, including Britain, joins with the Sri Lankan government to infringe their human rights.
A letter was sent to you by the refugees themselves pleading, after attempting in vain to attract media attention with a hunger strike, for action in their defence. I urge you to take action to defend their rights and lives.
Many in Britain are watching this event closely, and drawing conclusions from what they see; an international system of governments lying about their commitments to Human Rights but acting in their own political interests and ignoring the plight of defenceless peoples.
To Des Browne MP,
I absolutely condemn what you are doing to the Tamil people of Sri Lanka. It is absolutely disgusting how little help you are providing them, especially when they are in such an incredibly desperate state, and it is an insult to them.
“We take the view that it is safe to return people, including Tamils, to Sri Lanka”. This quote of yours is a completely untrue opinion and is clearly not a fact, how can you prove and justify that it is safe for the Tamils to return to Sri Lanka? Can you honestly say that they will be treated like proper and decent human beings by the Sinhalese as well without being discriminated for being a Tamil?
It is an absolute disgrace of the kind of position you are leaving the Tamil people in, and the fact that Britain is cutting aid when they clearly need more in those atrocious camps which they have been locked up in, in their own country which they have lived in for all of their life; it sounds ridiculous and it is ridiculous- fact.
This is a repeat of what happened in Germany during WW2 with the Jews being locked up in atrocious camps in their own country. If you consider that unacceptable, then clearly what is happening in Sri Lanka is just as unacceptable as well, as it is EXACTLY the same; it could even be considered worse as we are now in the 21st century and such things are still occurring.
Discrimination is not tolerable here in Britain, so it should not take place in Sri Lanka either.
4 FAO Des Brown MP
Dear Mr Brown,
I am writing to you to register my anger and disappointment regarding how Tamils are being treated in Sri Lanka, and our government’s tacit compliance in their maltreatment.
I ask you to read the following pages from the Tamil Solidarity web site [ http://www.tamilsolidarity.org/?p=661 ] which express better than I can the desperate plight the Tamil people are experiencing.
You may not think there are “many votes” in this issue, but I promise you that no attempt to brush this matter under the carpet will succeed.
As signatories to several Human Rights accords, it is about time the UK government stopped turning a convenient blind eye to the plight of the Tamil peoples and also stopped acting in league with the brutal Sri Lankan dictatorship by refraning to criticise in any way their oppressive actions.
To Des Browne,
I’m writing to you in your capacity as Britain’s special envoy to Sri Lanka. I’m absolutely appalled at your stated position on the situation facing the Tamil-speaking refugees boat crisis in Merak Harbour, Indonesia, and I protest in the strongest possible terms about this. It is despicable that you can declare that Sri Lanka is a safe country for Tamil refugees whilst over 250,000 people are held under armed guard in concentration-style camps and over 30,000 young people are kept in secret camps and tortured in Sri Lanka.The refugees have undertaken a most dangerous journey just to save their lives and to secure a better future for their children.
It is outrageous and completly unacceptable that as Britain’s special envoy to Sri Lanka, you were complicit in supporting the position of the Australian and Sri Lankan governments when you announced that: “We take the view that it is safe to return people, including Tamils, to Sri Lanka”. This announcement came just a week after a parliamentary debate held on camps in Sri Lanka. Michael Foster (Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for International Development) announced that the aid will be cut.
By taking your position of claiming that Sri Lanka is a safe place for the Tamil refugees, you and the New Labour government are failing to act in the interests of oppressed Tamil-speaking people. This is confirmed by your announcement that the international community will not support the call for a separate state for Tamil-speaking people within Sri Lanka. It is truly incredible that you could declare that the brutal government of Mahinda Rajapakse is a “functioning democracy”. This claim would be laughable, if the truth wasn’t so sinister. Even the Financial Times has described the current Sri Lankan government of Rajapakse as an “elected dictatorship”.
I stand in full solidarity with the Tamil-speaking people around the world who have campaigned tirelessly and bravely to expose the brutal repression of Tamil people in Sri Lanka. I also fully support the campaigning efforts of the internationally co-ordinated ‘Tamil Solidarity’ campaign. Furthermore, even Tamil MPs in Sri Lanka call the government a dictatorship of the Rajapakse family. Trade unions and left organisations, human rights organisations in Sri Lanka and around the world have strongly condemned the Sri Lankan government. Therefore, it is totally irresponsible of you to defend the Sri Lankan government and say Sri Lanka is safe for Tamil-speaking people.
It is truly appalling that early this week an Indonesian navy officer informed the refugees in the boat at Merak harbour that they will not allow UNHCR to meet them. They also informed them that they will not allow any media personnel to meet them. This happened directly after Australia and Sri Lanka signed the refugees agreement. Now the refugees in the boat demand validity of that claim. I demand that you condemn both the Sri lankan and Australian governments for this unacceptable action.
The Tamil-speaking refugees are victims of the Sri Lankan government’s chauvinist policies and human rights violations. Now the so-called international community joins with the Sri Lankan government to infringe their human rights. This includes Britain.
The refugees are rightly appalled by this, and I fully support the statement they’ve sent to all the governments concerned. They feel let down by those they believed would respect their minimum rights, such as the right to a decent life and education for their children. I join them in their disappointment and I’m equally appalled by their treatment. I fully support their demand for the immediate granting of asylum status to these refugees. This should be your position as well and you should cease to support the brutal Rajapakse Sri Lankan goverment immediately.
University College Union (UCU) – Personal Capacity and member of Tamil Solidarity
Cardiff, South Wales