Melbourne’s Tamil community continues to protest against the ongoing genocide in Sri Lanka, which has seen thousands of Tamils locked up in camps, subjected to terrifying conditions by the Sri Lankan military, and often killed outright, while the Sri Lankan government works to block foreign media from entering. Earlier in the week, I reported on the existence of a protest group at Federation Square. Now, after seeing them there for the third night and talking to some of those involved, I’ve learnt much more about it.
The protestors have been gathering at Federation Square, every single weeknight, beginning around 5 and lasting until 6 or 7, for the past three weeks. Previous protests have gathered around Parliament and the State Library, but at these places, they were failing to attract much notice. Now they’ve found that at Federation Square, far more people can see them. Not only that, but they’re near the police station here, and in full public view – both of which make them safer from attacks by Sri Lankan ex-pat supporters of the genocidal regime. Recently there was an incident in which a group of pro-government Sri Lankans had been out drinking, and Tamil protestors were driving through the city on a pre-planned route. The government-supporters mobbed the Tamil cars and broadcast the incident on YouTube to make fun of them. Racism is a real issue for ethnic Tamils in the Sri Lankan community.
So they stand chanting slogans relating to Tamil independance, to stopping the genocide, and to the controversial resistance group the Tamil Tigers. (more…)