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Insight into South Asia

Tamils plan for a massive rally in New York city on 17th April

As news of large scale violence and civilian casualty numbers arrive from the Safe Zone in Sri Lanka, a massive rally is being organized in New York city on the 17th of April. Tamils all over the world are intensifying their protests and are urging the local governments of their respective countries to intervene and stop the carnage.

Organizers of the New York rally have made open calls to not only Tamils but also to Americans to join the protest to stop the genocide. The organizers have informed that “We want not only you, but your whole family – we need the children’s voice as well. So consider taking them from school and informing the school that they will be participating in a rally against genocide”. The rally is planned to be held in front of the United Nations Office and at Times Square on Friday between 11:00 am to 5:00 pm.

Voices of protests to the genocidal war is being raised from several quarters of the western world as well. Brad Adams, Human Rights Watch Asia director said “Sri Lanka’s so-called ‘no-fire zone’ is now one of the most dangerous places in the world.”

In Dublin, Tamil protesters were joined by Ireland Socialist Party members. irland1

While the intensity of protests by Tamils and others against the genocide is increasing day by day, the Sri Lankan government however is continuing with the killings in the Safe Zone. TamilNet – the website that the Western diplomats rely on to get information from sources outside government controlled media, reported yesterday that 180 civilians have been killed in 3 hours of shelling by the government forces.

Written by Kandhan

An engineer by profession, Kandhan writes to promote progressive politics in India.

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Sri Lanka & LTTE: The shifting semantics of a Political Solution

Written by Sunderapandyan

Community cheer leader, leisure sportsman, engineer & innovator – Sunderapandyan is hard to pin down. He reports about critical South Asian issues to the world.

On Sunday, 31st January, the Red Cross said in a statement that the Puthukkudiyiruppu hospital in Vanni region received two direct hits from Sri Lankan Army shelling. “We’re shocked that the hospital was hit, and this for the second time in recent weeks,” said Paul Castella, head of the Colombo delegation of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). “Wounded and sick people, medical personnel and medical facilities are all protected by international humanitarian law. Under no circumstance may they be directly attacked.” The hospital, which has some 500 inpatients, is one of the few still operating in the region.

A “handful” of United Nations staff are working around the clock to save a growing number of children caught in the crossfire, a U.N. spokesman said Saturday. Children as young as 4 months old were being treated in local hospitals for shrapnel injuries and other “wounds of war,” spokesman James Elder told CNN.

The 48 hour respite announced by the government has ended as an act of eye-wash while 80 innocent Tamil civilians have been killed and 230 have been injured in the said 48 hours and that too within the government declared ‘safety zone’ in Vanni. During this 48 hour safe passage assured for the civilians which ended on Sunday, about 70 civilians crossed over to the government held areas. The LTTE announced that they will neither encourage nor stop the civilians from moving to any area they feel safe but will protect the civilians that stay in their territory.

Meanwhile Sri Lankan Government officials accused aid organizations and foreign media of sensationalizing civilian casualties. In an interview to local media as reported by The Guardian, the defence secretary, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, highlighted the role of ambassadors of Switzerland and Germany, and television networks CNN, BBC and Al-Jazeera in his criticism of foreigners, accusing them of being biased towards the LTTE rebels. “They will be chased away” he said. In the newspaper article, he singled out the BBC correspondent reporting from Colombo, Chris Morris, saying that “if he does not act responsibly and attempts to create panic, I will have to chase him out of the country”

The Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora in a show of solidarity held large scale protests last week in Toronto, Canada and London, UK that gained live coverage in the local media. The protests were reported as something that these cities have never witnessed.

About 80,000 individuals took part in the Human Chain protest in Toronto, Canada and shouted slogans supporting the independence of Tamil Eelam and immediate ceasefire.

In London, UK about 130,000 individuals, mostly Tamils took to the streets also calling for Independence for Tamil Eelam. Few British parliamentarians who were present during the protests, spoke to the crowd. British Parliamentarian Mr Keith Vaz said “Over there across the road is the Indian Embassy. We urge the Indian government in the spirit of Mahatma Gandhi to call for peace, to call for democracy”.

It is an Irony to see a British asking India to honor Mahatma Gandhi.

In Chennai, India, more than 10,000 activists of political parties and social outfits, including a large number of students and youth, on Saturday bade an emotional farewell to Muthukumar, who had set himself ablaze for the Sri Lankan Tamil cause. They chanted slogans seeking recognition for an independent Tamil Eelam, hailing LTTE supremo V Prabhakaran and condemned India for its alleged support to Sri Lanka in the ongoing war.

Meanwhile, the newly-formed Sri Lankan Tamils’ Protection Movement, comprising several political parties, announced a state-wide general strike on February 4 and black flag processions on February 7 demanding a ceasefire in the island nation. The strike will coincide with Sri Lanka’s Independence Day.

Apprehending student unrest across Tamil Nadu over the prevailing situation in Sri Lanka, the state government on Saturday night closed all government and private colleges and hostels for an indefinite period. Elsewhere in Tamil Nadu, protesters torched a state-owned bus near Vellore, while 225 people were arrested in Thanjavur when they tried to lay siege on the Air Force station. They were protesting against the alleged use of the Air Force station for sending arms to Lanka.

As the international pressure from governments and Tamil diaspora mount on the Sri Lankan government, more analysts are making note that an Independent Tamil Eelam is now a political solution where as a united Sri Lanka has become a military one. The shift in the semantics does indicate that a military victory over LTTE as speculated by the Sri Lankan government may probably not end the crisis.

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