Tamils Against Genocide: Protest Rally at UN against Sri Lanka's Genocide Draws Thousands of Activists

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Tamils Against Genocide reported that over one thousand Tamil Americans, Tamil Canadians, and friends of Tamils participated in their massive protest in front of the United Nations Headquarters in New York on Wednesday, September 24, 2008. They hoped to draw the attention of the United Nations to the Sri Lankan genocide of Tamils. They demanded sanctions against Sri Lanka, and advocated invoking the principle of Responsibility to Protect (R2P) as a means to halt the genocide of Tamils. Tamils Against Genocide issued the following statement, which describes their successful rally in front of United Nations in New York. The statement reads:

Over one thousand Tamil Americans, Tamil Canadians, and friends of Tamils staged a protest in front of the United Nations Headquarters in New York on Wednesday, September 24, 2008; Tamils Against Genocide reported The crowd protested the ongoing genocide of Tamils in Sri Lanka. They also denounced the visit to the UN by the Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

A counter-protest by Sri Lankan Government supporters seem to fizzle out, with less than 20 people showing up. The counter-protest briefly included some Buddhist monks.

The group protested Sri Lankan government actions that worsened the situation for Tamils on the Island. Weeks before his visit to the UN, the Rajapaksa government expelled all NGOs(including the UN agencies) from the areas of conflict. Food and medicine to the trapped Tamil population was blocked. The Government armed forces, emboldened by Iranian and Chinese funding, were engaged in indiscriminate aerial bombings and artillery shelling of heavily populated Tamil enclaves. The bombing and shelling killed many, and displaced over 200,000 civilians. The protesters chanted "Rajapaksa, don't come to the UN, go to The Hague."

Speaking at the rally, Dr. Ellyn Shander, a US physician who volunteered in Sri Lanka after the Asian Tsunami, drew parallels between the Nazi holocaust and the plight of the Tamils in Sri Lanka. She accused the Sri Lankan government of committing genocide against Tamils. New York attorney Visuvanathan Rudrakumar faulted the United Nations for acquiescing to Sri Lankan demands and withdrawing UN aid agencies from Tamil areas. He denounced the failure of the UN for not taking steps to protect the civilian enclaves as it had done in other conflict areas of the world. Ms. Usha Sriskandarajah from Toronto spoke as a mother on the travails of the women and children living under trees without food and medicine and under frequent barrages of artillery, and pleaded with the international community to take protective measures without delay.

A petition signed by the rally attendees addressed to United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon was submitted at the UN. It pointed out that the Government of Sri Lanka has abdicated its responsibilities to the Tamil inhabitants of the island. The petition emphasized that the international community, embodied by the UN, must begin to act on its ideals for the protection of the vulnerable Tamil people.

The petition proposed an array of possible actions by the UN. These included sending an independent monitor from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. The petition also proposed setting up internationally supervised safe havens for civilians in active conflict zones and a total ban on military aid to all parties in the conflict. It called for prosecution of the individuals responsible for war crimes, ethnic cleansing, crimes against humanity, and genocide on the island.

The protesters' petition called for a special UN session on the matter of Sri Lanka.

Contact Information:
Tamils Against Genocide
5513 Twin Knolls Road,
Suite #214
Columbia, MD 21045
Tele Phone:919-247-4072


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