Thousands Rally to Urge Obama to Stop "Genocide" in Sri Lanka

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Tamils Against Genocide held a massive rally in front of the white house on Friday February 20th to protest what they consider the genocide of Tamils by the Sri Lankan government. The purpose of the rally was to draw the attention of President Obama and his administration to the ongoing bloodshed. Nearly 10,000 Tamil Americans and Tamil Canadians crowded the Ellipse Circle. The demonstrators, rallying, chanting and holding placards and banners, hoped to highlight the scope of the ongoing persecution and to demand U.S. action.

Washington, D.C. February 21, 2009 - Tamils Against Genocide held a massive rally in front of the white house on Friday February 20th to protest what they consider the genocide of Tamils by the Sri Lankan government. The purpose of the rally was to draw the attention of President Obama and his administration to the ongoing bloodshed. Nearly 10,000 Tamil Americans and Tamil Canadians crowded the Ellipse Circle. The demonstrators, rallying, chanting and holding placards and banners, hoped to highlight the scope of the ongoing persecution and to demand U.S. action.

A banner read, "We too hope for change: Change - US policy on Sri Lanka; Hope - end to genocide."

The rally was held between 11 am and 5pm. Another rally was held in front of the State Department from 11 am to 1 pm. Diane Kelley, the State Department's Deputy Director for South Asia, met the rally representatives and accepted a petition addressed to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

The petition appealed to the US government to publicly condemn the atrocities perpetrated by the Sri Lankan government on Tamil civilians, and asked the U.S. to use sanctions and economic pressure to bring about an immediate cease-fire. The petition also demanded unfettered access for international humanitarian aid agencies and journalists into the conflict zone.

Once a ceasefire is in place, an organizer of the rally explained, the U.S. and the international community should help to find a political solution. Another organizer of the rally said it was hoped that the Tamil people living in Sri Lanka and exiled in other countries would then democratically determine the terms of coexistence with the Sinhalese state "based on the universally accepted principle of self-determination."

One organizer of the rally explained that "Since January 2009, the Singhalese-dominated Sri Lanka Government forces killed over 2000 Tamil civilians by shelling and aerial bombing of hospitals and safe-zones in Northeast Sri Lanka." The casualty figure was confirmed by a report issued by Human Rights Watch this week. A rally spokesman said that the Sri Lanka government is responsible for deaths and disappearances of over 8000 ethnic Tamils in the past 3 years, and that over 415,000 Tamils are trapped by government forces in 85 sq miles, and are denied adequate food and medical aid.

The rally organizer also said that the Sri Lankan government expelled UN agencies and the International Red Cross from the war zone, barred journalists, and fired on Tamil civilians after expelling media witnesses. The rally organizer explained that the silence of the international community including the US, India and the UN, galvanized Tamils across the world to organize protests.

The rally ended with a public meeting. Dr. Ellyn Shander, a humanitarian worker, made a passionate plea to the Obama government to act to halt Tamil genocide. Bruce Fein, former deputy attorney general under President Reagan and counsel for Tamils Against Genocide, spoke on the efforts to indict key Sri Lankan defense officials on charges of genocide.

For information on TAG please check http://www.TamilsAgainstGenocide.org

Contact: Darren Maynard    E-mail: info (at) tamilsagainstgenocide.org
Phone: 240-372-8400

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