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Protesters Cease Hunger Strike; 8000 Demonstrators Rally to DFAT

April 18, 2009

Click here for letter presented to Prime Minister Rudd through DFAT meeting

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE on 17 April 2009 6:30PM –

Protesters Cease Hunger Strike; 8000 Demonstrators Rally to DFAT

At 6PM today, the seventh day of the hunger strike, five protesters declared that they would be breaking their fast in front of over 8000 supporters who had gathered outside the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). The sixth had collapsed during the rally and had been rushed to hospital minutes earlier.

They claimed they had decided to break the hunger strike as the DFAT representative met minutes earlier by a delegation from the group had been receptive to their calls and had assured them the Australian government would do what it could to pressure Sri Lanka.

“We have been given assurances,” said Geetha Mano, a member of the delegation. “We will wait and see if they will keep these promises,” she added.

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Photo taken of Tamil hunger strikers leading the rally to DFAT

Photo taken of Tamil hunger strikers leading the rally to DFAT

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. fastuntoactionaust permalink
    April 18, 2009 8:37 pm

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE on 17 April 2009 6:30PM –
    https://fastuntoaction.wordpress.com/

    Protesters Cease Hunger Strike; 8000 Demonstrators Rally to DFAT

    At 6PM today, the seventh day of the hunger strike, five protesters
    declared that they would be breaking their fast in front of over 8000
    supporters who had gathered outside the Department of Foreign Affairs
    and Trade (DFAT). The sixth had collapsed during the rally and had
    been rushed to hospital minutes earlier.

    They claimed they had decided to break the hunger strike as the DFAT
    representative met minutes earlier by a delegation from the group had
    been receptive to their calls and had assured them the Australian
    government would do what it could to pressure Sri Lanka.

    “We have been given assurances,” said Geetha Mano, a member of the
    delegation. “We will wait and see if they will keep these promises,”
    she added.

    Concerns from the Australian Tamil community, which had escalated
    after a second hunger striker had to be admitted to hospital had also
    influenced their decision, said the group. “People started crying and
    saying they had already lost thousands of Tamils and could not bear to
    lose another in front of their eyes,” said Sutha Thanabalasingham, who
    had been rushed to hospital via ambulance on Wednesday night.

    Furthermore, the hunger strikers said a surprise visit by Senator Bob
    Brown that afternoon had given them hope that although the Government
    of Australia had not responded directly to any of their calls or even
    acknowledged their fast, a visit by a respected individual and a
    senior politician such as Mr Brown had meant a lot to them. “We know
    he is a man who has stuck to his words before, and I have faith he
    will do what he has told us,” said Arun Waran, a youth activist.

    Mr Brown had 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
    Diaspora.

    More than 8000 Australian Tamils and non-Tamils had rallied outside
    the Lodge in Canberra before walking to DFAT, this afternoon.

    The hunger striker and the participants of the rally were calling on
    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.

    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
    (https://fastuntoaction.wordpress.com/2009/04/15/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:
    Dr Sam Pari – 0433 428 967

  2. fastuntoactionaust permalink
    April 19, 2009 8:44 pm

    Dear Prime Minister Kevin Rudd,

    We have come together as the Tamil community of Australia in a desperate plea to end the military offensive that is taking place to more than 300 000 thousand of our brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers in north east Sri Lanka.

    The United Nations has said since January 2009 almost 3000 Tamil civilians have been killed and over 7000 have been injured. The United Nations has also predicted that if the military moved into the no-fire safe zone there will be a “blood bath”.

    Reports from within the conflict zone indicate the Sri Lankan military has already entered this no-fire safe area, which according to the UN has between 150 000 – 190 000 civilians. The Tamil community of Australia urge and plead that you use everything in you power to make sure that tens of thousands of Tamil civilians don’t die in the approaching days and weeks.

    The fasting that started with three Tamil youth on Saturday 11th of April and that is now continuing with six Tamil youth outside ‘The Lodge’ is their non-violent Gandhian and urgent plea to you, their Prime Minister, to use Australia’s diplomatic powers to ask the Sri Lankan government for four things:

    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 Tamils in Sri Lanka to decide for themselves where they wish to live;

    The United States and Britain has called for an immediate ceasefire. We ask as citizens of your country, that you too negotiate with the Rajapakse government for an immediate ceasefire and political solution to the grievances of the Tamil people.

    With kindest regards and deepest appreciation
    Australian Tamil community
    17th April 2009

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