Justice for Genocide: North American Tamils to Hold UN Rally

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A coalition of Tamil Americans and Tamil Canadians plans to hold a rally in front of the UN headquarters in New York City on Wednesday May 18, 2011, commemorating the 2009 Genocide victims in the Tamil homeland in Sri Lanka, and urging UN action to conduct an international independent investigation into the killings of over 80,000 Tamil civilians by the Sri Lankan state.

On May 18, 2011, a coalition of organizations representing the Tamil diaspora of North America will come together under the banner of “Justice for Genocide Victims of Tamil Eelam.” The Tamil groups will hold a rally and candlelight vigil in front of the United Nations in New York City to demand an independent, international investigation of what they describe as the genocide perpetrated on the Tamil people by the Sri Lankan government and its military.

"May 18th, 2009, marked the end of the war between the Tamil people and the Sinhalese-dominated government," a spokeswoman for the coalition explained. “In the name of fighting terror, the government of Sri Lanka indiscriminately bombed the Tamil homeland, using large-scale and widespread shelling including deployment of banned chemical weapons,” said the spokesperson, who added, “From January to May 2009, over 80,000 Tamil civilians were slaughtered by the Sri Lanka state apparatus, including 40,000 in the last three days.”

The horrors did not end when the fighting ended, the coalition's spokesperson explained. "After the war ended, hundreds of thousands of Tamil civilians and combatant survivors were detained under inhumane conditions and were subjected to torture, rape and extrajudicial killings at the hands of the Sri Lankan military.

"We spoke with many Tamils who endured life in these detention camps, so we know the reports are truthful, but there are other sources," said the spokeswoman, who also referred to reports published by human rights groups like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the International Crisis Group. While the atrocities were being carried out, she explained, the Sri Lankan government largely barred aid organizations, rights groups, and the international media from entering the conflict area.

"They were trying to hide the carnage from the rest of the world," the spokeswoman said.

The recently-released 'Report of the UN Secretary General’s Panel of Experts' details war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the Government of Sri Lanka, the coalition's spokesperson noted. She also pointed out that "The Report states that 'This is a grave assault on the entire regime of international law designed to protect individual dignity during both war and peace.'" In addition, she pointed out that the Report faults the UN for its failure to prevent the massacre and the human tragedy of 2009.

"Dissident voices, independent journalists, and elected Tamil Members of Parliament have been silenced by threats, brutality, and assassinations carried out by government-sponsored death squads," the spokeswoman concluded. "In order to give voice to the voiceless, our coalition and the widespread Tamil Diaspora are determined to carry forward the struggle for justice and freedom in the international arena."

The spokesperson then repeated that the UN rally--Justice for Genocide Victims of Tamil Eelam--will take place on May 18, 2011, from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm at First Avenue and East 44th Street in New York City. A candlelight vigil will also be held from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm at the same venue.

For the UN Panel Report: http://www.un.org/News/dh/infocus/Sri_Lanka/POE_Report_Full.pdf

For more information and details about Press coverage for the UN Rally, please contact: Suba Francis at 814 573 2791 Email: suba37(at)gmail(dot)com.


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Suba Francis

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