SA Comrade on Hunger Strike in Solidarity with Tamil People
We, the Justice for Tamils Students Association (JTSA), are a group formed with the purpose of campaigning for the rights of the Tamil peoples of Sri Lanka. The urgency of their plight due to the recent escalation of the Sri Lankan government military campaign compelled us to begin ongoing demonstrations: a 24hour vigil at the University of Auckland on 18 May 2009, and as of midnight 17 May 2009, the JTSA President, Stu Colquhoun began a hunger strike in protest against the humanitarian crisis in Sri Lanka.
We write to respectfully ask for your expression of solidarity with JTSA for this cause.
JTSA stand first and foremost for justice for the Tamil peoples. While we acknowledge that both parties to the internal conflict in Sri Lanka have acted in contravention to International Law, we support the following statement of Walter Kalin, UN Representative on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons, issued on 15 May 2009:
“Even if one party to the conflict is deliberately using civilians as human shields, the other party is still prohibited from carrying out attacks that are indiscriminate in their consequences or result in a disproportional loss of civilian life”.
We condemn the actions of the Sri Lankan government and military for the following acts:
• The Sri Lankan military is indiscriminately killing Tamil civilians.
• The Sri Lankan government is prohibiting international aid and humanitarian organisations from the affected area.
• The Sri Lankan government is under reporting the number of Tamil civilians in the conflict area, and the number of Tamil civilians casualties.
• The Sri Lankan government is prohibiting independent sources from providing information to the international community.
• Internally displaced Tamil people are being forceably detained in internment camps by the Sri Lankan government.
We call for the following:
• The cessation of all killing of Tamil civilians.
• The granting of access to NGOs and UN agencies into the affected area to provide aid to Tamil civilians and provide accurate monitoring and reports of the situation in the conflict area and the internment camps.
• The release of all Tamil civilians from internment camps.
While we acknowledge the root causes of the conflict must be resolved meaningfully to ensure a lasting peace, the urgent humanitarian crisis of the Tamil people must be addressed immediately.
Our vigil and hunger strike is for the following:
• To honour and mourn all victims of the genocide.
• To express solidarity with Tamil diaspora in Aotearoa and worldwide in standing against all the atrocities committed against their people in their homelands.
Our representative, Stu Colquhoun is on hunger strike to call for the following:
• To raise awareness of the urgency of the humanitarian crisis in Sri Lanka.
• To encourage the student body to act as a matter of conscience in appealing to those in a position to influence the Sri Lankan government. In particular:
o To call on the New Zealand government to demand the Sri Lankan government open the conflict zones to UN agencies and NGOs;
o To call on the New Zealand government to impose sanctions on the Sri Lankan government until the above demand is met;
o To call on the New Zealand government to call for those responsible for the genocide of Tamil peoples to be held accountable under International Law;
o To call on the New Zealand Cricket Association to boycott the Black Caps tour of Sri Lanka scheduled for later this year;
o To contact their local MPs requesting the above demands are called for in Parliament.
We believe that it is the responsibility of all global citizens to respond to the atrocities affecting the Tamil peoples. We implore your organisation to stand with us in voicing the concerns of the Tamil peoples, that they not only be heard, but realised as a matter of urgency.
Justice for Tamil Students Association
God bless you.
Siva (Toronto, Canada)