2ND LEAD (Photos added)
Australian Tamils call for an end to military occupation in Tamil homeland
[TamilNet, Monday, 29 May 2006, 06:46 GMT]
Over 1200 Tamils from across Australia gathered in front of their national parliament on Monday, May 29, to raise the voices in concert with the global protest campaign organised by the Tamil Diaspora. Parliamentarians from all sides of Australian politics, religious dignitaries, people who had been to the homelands and others addressed the protesters between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. The parliamentarians expressed their conviction that the gathering had conveyed the level of support amongst the Diaspora for the Tamil cause. Some parliamentarians undertook to convey this message of support to the rest of the politicians.
Australian parliamentarians with Tamil activists at the protest site
Australian Parliamentarians, who were present in Canberra as the parliament was in session, addressed the gathering. Among those who spoke were John Murphy MP, Laurie Fergusson MP and Louise Markus MP. Apologies were received from Kate Ellis MP and Bob McMullan MP. A supportive message from Senator Kerry Nettle was also read out.
Religious dignitaries also addressed the large crowd. The Catholic Bishop of Canberra and Goulburn, Pat Powell, a Minister of the Wesley Uniting Church, Rev George Henderson and Hindu priest, Suresh Iyer all spoke. Others including Bishop Browning, Anglican Bishop of Canberra, sent their apologies.
The main theme of the protest was a call on the Sri Lankan military to vacate the Tamil homelands. Recent killings of civilians allegedly by the Sri Lankan military, including the massacre of a family of four in Allaipiddy and the bombing of civilian centres around Muttur town, were condemned by the crowd.
A section of the protestors
Others to address the gathering included Dr Brian Senewiratne, Mr Ana Pararajasingham, Mr Thanabalasingham and Dr Victor Rajagulendran. Several others also spoke, including a number of youths who had first hand experience of life in the Tamil homelands.
A poster expressing fear that EU's punitive meassures against the Tigers will be strengthening Sri Lankan violence in Tamil homeland
Of note was a feature display depicting a number of incidents that have recently occurred in Tamil areas. The killing of Joseph Pararajasingham MP, the four bodies of the family in Allaipiddy who were shot in their sleep, the man from Allaipiddy who was shot as he pleaded for his life and the discovery of the body of journalist Taraki, Dharmaretnam Sivaram, were all depicted. Another display, representing the international community's reaction to the Sri Lankan government, showed the three monkeys, who see no evil, hear no evil and say no evil.
Delegations from the gathering approached the embassies of other countries and the offices of the Prime Minister of Australia and the Leader of the Opposition and handed over a memorandum expressing the views of the Tamil community in Australia.
Tamils from a number of Australian states gathered opposite Parliament House in the national capital, Canberra to share their message of solidarity with others in Australia and across the Diaspora. People had travelled from Queensland, South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales to join people resident in the Australian Capital Territory in the protest. Of significance was the large number of young people who made the effort to join in the protest.