Protests in London and Toronto against the repression of students in Jaffna!

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A SERIES of protests have been organised outside the British Prime Minister’s Office in 10 Downing Street, since last Monday to condemn the repression of the Jaffna University students by the occupying Sinhala military.

Condemning the arrests and detentions of the students, and the Sinhala military’s systematic assaults on the civil rights of the Eezham Tamils as part of the genocide of the Tamil nation, the protesters urged the UK and the International Community to ensure the immediate release of the arrested students, and to safeguard the democratic rights of the Eezham Tamil nation in the island.

Speaking at the demonstration on Friday, Dr Andy Higginbottom, principal lecturer in politics and human rights at Kingston University, said the British government and British politicians have full knowledge of what is happening in Sri Lanka, and urged the Tamils in the UK to mobilise the larger British public.

Speaking to TamilNet from the protests Sasithar Maheswaran from the TCC-UK said: ‘The arrests and detention of the students is taking place under the Western endorsed rehabilitation and reconciliation model.

‘Anyone who expresses the national aspirations of Eezham Tamils is automatically labelled as a terrorist and incarcerated.

‘This is the international community’s solution. This is genocide.’

A petition submitted by TCC-UK to the PMO criticized the UK for its silence.

‘The UK, which created the modern Sri Lanka state for convenience during the heydays of colonialism, seems little interested in correcting the wrongs of a stained history.

‘Instead, it is underwriting the genocidal acts of the Sri Lanka state, and offering its support at every international forum.’

Meanwhile last Friday, over twenty social, economic and environmental justice groups in Canada joined together in Toronto on the eve of International Human Rights Day to forge a common forum against military occupation, apartheid, genocide and political imprisonment.

They also spoke out against the SL military detention of the students of the University of Jaffna.

The event is significant as the recently formed Coalition for Tamil Rights was invited to represent the Eezham Tamils along with other progressive forces.

Activists from socio-political organisations in Canada also condemned the arrests and detentions of the Tamil students in Jaffna by the occupying SL military.

They demanded the immediate release of the students and called for an end to the Sri Lankan military occupation of the Tamil homeland.

The solidarity event of activist communities from across Toronto took place at United Steel Workers Hall on Sunday, December 9th.

‘We call on the Sri Lankan government to immediately end its occupation of the Tamil homeland, vacate Jaffna University campus, and release the student leaders’ Peter Hogarth of the International Socialists told TamilNet adding that the IS extends its solidarity to the students who have been locked up in this politically motivated move by the Sri Lankan state.

Sid Lacombe of Canadian Peace Alliance (CPA), Canada’s largest peace coalition group and a partner of the Coalition for Tamil Rights, said: ‘Sri Lanka’s so-called reconciliation process is based on nothing more than militarisation and genocide.’

‘We will be closely monitoring and bringing to light to our fellow Canadians the real nature of Sri Lanka’s reconciliation process.’

‘We demand the immediate release of the Jaffna student leaders and support their right to resist,’ Lacombe said.

Torontonians also staged film screenings, a human rights fair, songs and live poetry performances.

The event culminated in a panel discussion on specific human rights struggles being organised in Toronto.

Monira Kitmitto from the Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid described the historical dispossession of the Palestinian people and their globally supported strategy of Boycotts, Divestments and Sanctions (BDS) to end apartheid in Israel.

Ms Kitmitto explained that the global BDS movement against Israel is to force it to comply with international law.

The campaign aims to end the occupation of Palestine and dismantle the apartheid wall, protect and promote the right of return for all Palestinian refugees, and ensure equal rights for all Palestinians living in Israel.

‘BDS is a strategy that allows people of conscience to play an effective role in the Palestinian struggle for justice,’ she said.

Ilian Burbano spoke on behalf of the Latin American Caribbean Solidarity Network, a non-profit umbrella organisation, which brings together groups that carry out work in solidarity with the progressive and democratic transformation processes taking place in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Burbano described in detail the anti-mining, indigenous sovereignty and environmental justice struggles happening throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.

Alex Filipe, an organiser with Bayan (Canada), a network of Filipino organisations linked to the national liberation struggle in the Philippines, said that the danger of the so-called liberal agenda which only seeks to deal with individual’s rights violations while ignoring the violations of group rights, should be exposed.

Filipe touched on the similarities between what he called as the ‘US-Marcos fascist regime’ and the ‘US-backed Arroyo regime’, both scheming to stay in power while perpetrating some of the worst human rights violations in the history of the Philippines.

Krisna Saranamuttu, representing the Coalition for Tamil Rights, addressing the audience said that the Sri Lankan state was seeking to complete its project of dismantling the nationhood of the Eezham Tamils in their territorial homeland through military occupation, colonisation, and the denial of fundamental political and civil liberties.

Countering the ‘reconciliation’ myth, he told the packed audience that the political imprisonment of the Jaffna student leaders and their persecution by the Sri Lankan military is part of its terror campaign against civilians even after militarily crushing the Tamils’ resistance movement through a genocidal war three years ago.

Saravanamuttu, who is a second-generation Eezham Tamil activist and recipient of the British Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Award, talking to TamilNet after the event said: ‘We must build a genuine global struggle based on human justice and freedom that exposes the complicity of the International Community of Establishments in our nation’s genocide.

‘In the post Mu’l’livaaykkaal era, the Tamil liberation struggle requires a nuanced and mature political strategy that no longer begs for justice from the same powerful governments and institutions that are aiding and abetting our nation’s genocide.’

The Coalition for Tamil Rights consists of workers, students, academics and activists from across Canadian civil society to support the Tamil struggle for self-determination and to speak out for the immediate end of the military occupation and colonisation of the Tamil homeland.