‘ALLOW US TO SPEAK!’ – demand French Tamils

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Tamil demonstrators sit down as French riot police stop them marching
Tamil demonstrators sit down as French riot police stop them marching

TAMILNET reports that the French Tamil diaspora has been demonstrating, demanding ‘Allow us to speak’.

‘Allow us to speak! We are not terrorists. What is happening in Sri Lanka is genocide’.

These were the voices of the thousands of Eezham Tamils who braved defying a government ban, and gathered in Paris on Sunday.

One of the demonstrators, Mr Somasundaram Sarveswaran, said what is abominable and which goes against all norms of civilization is silencing the civilian voice.

‘The Tamil national cause and the struggle against genocide of a people are not terrorist issues. There is a tendency today to look at everything related to Tamils as terrorism.

‘This is why we earnestly look upon the leaders of Tamil Nadu to secure us our righteous global space as a priority, by recognising the Tamil right to self-determination in the Island of Sri Lanka’.

Sarveswaran travelled the 400km from Lyon to Paris, with his wife and two children, to take part in the demonstration, without knowing that the French Police had declined permission for it.

He further said, France, which has nearly 100,000 Tamils who respect the country’s law, has been silent against the killings of Eezham Tamils in their homeland.

The French government was ignoring the investigation of 17 Tamil speaking humanitarian workers of the French NGO Action Contre La Faim (ACF), who were allegedly massacred by the Sri Lankan forces in Moothoor in Trincomalee.

A parade was supposed to go on from Place de la Republic to Place de la Bastille Sunday the 19th of October from 3,00pm to 6.00pm.

This was organised by a member of the French political party Nouveau Centre in which several Tamils are active members. But at the last minute the French Police refused permission for the parade for reasons unknown.

The participants were waiting for this day to speak out to the French government, which holds the current Presidency of the European Union, about the ongoing genocide in Sri Lanka against the Tamil people: aerial bombings, artillery attacks against the civilians and widespread human rights abuses against Tamils all over the island of Sri Lanka.

The refusal turned into such deep frustration and anger that demonstrators decided to get to the streets, against being treated as ‘terrorists’ and demanded their right of expression.

Thousands gathered at the symbolic Place de la Bastille, where the French revolution started.

People displayed placards saying: ‘We are not Terrorists’, ‘Give us the right of expression’, and ‘There is a genocide going on against our Families in Sri Lanka.’ The riot police cordoned off and blocked the demonstrators from moving. Everyone sat down and started shouting slogans.

Sarveswaran added: ‘There was another demonstration of a French trade union of teachers going on in the same venue at that time. Seeing our plight, they joined us shouting at the French police and even provided space for a representative of us to speak on their stage.’

Meanwhile, Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa telephoned Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday to discuss recent developments in Sri Lanka.

While the Sri Lankan press release is silent on details, the Indian brief discloses the PM’s concern for the safety of civilians, ensured relief supply to IDPs, not enmeshing the Tamil community in the hostilities with LTTE and nurturing democracy in the East, apart from the usual reiterations on political solution, united Sri Lanka and Indian fishermen casualties. The Indian foreign minister Pranab Mukherjee was invited by his Sri Lankan counterpart to visit Sri Lanka at an early date, according to SL press release.

The full text of the press statement issued by the media unit of the Indian Prime Minister in New Delhi, follows:

‘President of Sri Lanka His Excellency Mahinda Rajapaksa telephoned Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh today to discuss the recent developments in Sri Lanka.

‘During the telephone conversation, the Prime Minister expressed his deep concern on the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the North of Sri Lanka, especially on the plight of the civilians caught in the hostilities.

‘He emphasised that the safety and the security of these civilians must be safeguarded at all costs. The Prime Minister also said that, in order to address the humanitarian situation, continued and uninterrupted relief supplies be ensured for the Internally Displaced Persons.

‘President Rajapaksha assured the Prime Minister that all necessary measures are being taken to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the Tamil community in Sri Lanka.

‘Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh further mentioned that the rights and the welfare of the Tamil community of Sri Lanka should not get enmeshed in the on-going hostilities against the LTTE.

‘He reiterated that there was no military solution to the conflict and urged the President to start a political process for a peacefully negotiated political settlement within the framework of a united Sri Lanka.

‘He also emphasised the need to nurture the democratic process in the Eastern Province.

‘The Prime Minister asked President Rajapaksa to instruct the Sri Lankan Navy to desist from firing on Indian fishermen and reiterated that killing of fishermen is unacceptable. They agreed to work on practical arrangements to prevent such incidents.’