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News reports of the Hunger striker collapse in Canberra

April 18, 2009

AFP : Australian Tamils call off hunger strike

ABC : Tamil hunger striker collapses during protest

SMH : Hunger striker collapses outside DFAT

Nine : Hunger striker collapses outside DFAT and UK Hunger striker prepared to die


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  1. fastuntoactionaust permalink
    April 18, 2009 8:25 pm

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE on 17 April 2009 5:00PM –

    8000 Protestors to Walk to DFAT; Senator Bob Brown Makes Suprise to
    Hunger Strikers;
    Hunger Strikers to Meet DFAT Representative

    More than 8000 Australian Tamils and non-Tamils are completing a rally
    in Canberra. The demonstration moved from The Lodge to the Department
    of Foreign Affairs (DFAT) and Trade where a delegation, comprising of
    three hunger strikers and two youth activists met with a DFAT

    Senator Bob made a surprise visit at 12 noon to talk to the six hunger
    strikers and address the crowd that had gathered for the following
    demonstration. He said he would push for media to gain access to the
    conflict zone in Sri Lanka and urge the Australian Foreign Minister to
    call for a ceasefire. Senator Bob Brown has himself participated in
    hunger strikes before, and he told the participants he understood the
    high emotions attached to an issue such as the one plaguing the Tamil

    The rally comes as three of the six hunger strikers prepare to enter
    their seventh day.

    The participants of the rally are calling upon the Australian
    government to use its diplomatic powers to pressure Sri Lanka into
    entering an immediate and permanent ceasefire.

    Three protestors have been on a hunger strike since Saturday 11 April
    in a desperate plea to urge the Australian government to act. Three
    more joined them 55 hours later.

    On Wednesday night, one of the young men was rushed via ambulance to
    the Emergency Department as he developed signs of severe dehydration
    and blood results confirmed muscle breakdown. After being rehydrated,
    he returned within hours to continue his protest.

    Hundreds of Australian Tamils have converged outside The Lodge over
    the past week to give support to the hunger strikers. “We are worried
    about their health and we want them to stop but we understand they are
    doing this out of desperation,” said Dharshan Guna. “If I have lost
    contact with my family for more than 6 months and I know the Sri
    Lankan government is bombing where they live, I might do the same
    too,” he added.

    The hunger strike taking place outside the Prime Minister’s Canberra
    residence, is a desperate plea to the Australian government to use its
    diplomatic powers to push the Sri Lankan government on four demands :
    1. to enter an immediate and permanent ceasefire with the Liberation
    Tigers of Tamil Eelam;
    2. to immediately allow food, medicine and aid into the conflict zone;
    3. to allow vital services, including medical services into the conflict zone;
    4. allow the Tamil people, both in the conflict zone and those
    indefinitely detained in concentration camps in government-held areas,
    to decide independently where they wish to reside.

    “If Mr Rudd or the Foreign Minister will at least meet us to hear our
    story, we will stop our hunger strike,” said Sutha. “We [the
    Australian Tamils] have tried for more than a year to meet them but
    they have said no each time. We can’t keep waiting any longer.
    Hundreds of innocent civilians are dying every day,” he added.

    Sources from the conflict zone have confirmed heavy military
    offensives by the Sri Lankan military in the so-called ‘no-fire safe
    zone’ with over 300,000 Tamil civilians coming under continuous
    artillery fire.

    While leaving Parliament House in Canberra on Wednesday, Tamil
    protesters handed the Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd a list of
    their four demands
    ( Police
    informed the doctors on site that Mr Rudd’s office had been informed
    of the deterioration in the boys’ health and of the need to rush one
    of them to hospital. The demonstrators are yet to hear from the Prime
    Minister’s office.

    Media Contacts:
    Ms Geetha Mano – 0433 452 981
    Ms Gaya Waran – 0422 224 582

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