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Australians to protest plight of Tamil refugees, urge intervention in Sri Lanka

June 4, 2009

A large gathering is expected in Canberra today to urge the international community to pressure the Government of Sri Lanka to allow aid groups and human rights monitors access to over 300,000 Tamil civilians locked inside military camps in the island’s north.

 Demonstrators from across the nation will travel to the embassies of major global powers to urge international support for a lifting of censorship in Sri Lanka’s conflict zone, amid reports of human rights violations and abuses by government troops towards hundreds of thousands of Tamil refugees displaced by the nation’s civil war.

 “Nations across the globe are voicing their concerns for the safety of these people at the hands of their tormentors, yet nothing beyond words has been done to ensure these people are treated humanely,” urged spokesperson Lavinya Theva.

 The protest comes hours after the British press reported that the Government of Sri Lanka had evicted dozens of aid workers from the island, accusing them of being sympathetic to the Tamil Tigers, with NGOs believing new visa restrictions in place have been designed to silence foreign critics.

 “The NGOs are all extremely scared. If you raise your voice you’ll be the next one thrown out,” a senior member of staff in one international aid group told the Times.

 The report comes amid growing calls for investigations of war crimes committed by the Sri Lankan military, as reports this week revealed that the UN deliberately withheld knowledge of 20,000 Tamil civilians being killed by government troops.

 “When an organisation that embodies the principles of humanity and justice are complicit in covering up an ethnic cleansing, the level of betrayal of the Tamil people becomes clear” said Theva.

 The protest will commence at 12.30PM in front of the French Embassy and will target over 20 embassies and high commissions.

 Ms Lavinya Theva                                               0422 343 897

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