2ND LEAD (Adds details, corrections)
South African Tamils observe Black July
[TamilNet, Saturday, 28 July 2007, 17:25 GMT]
Several hundred South African Tamils filled the Bayview Arutpa
Kazhagam Hall in Chatsworth in Durban Friday evening to express solidarity with the NorthEast Tamils, and to pay respect for the victims of the pogroms against Tamils in Sri Lanka in July 1983.
Guest speaker, Prof. Karthi Govender of the South African Human Rights Commission, compared the Sri Lankan
conflict with other contemporary conflicts.
"..Very often when genocide is committed it is committed on the basis of cultural and religious basis and differences. People engage in genocide to demean and devalue existence of another culture and religion," Prof Govender said.
He said that conflicts normally reach a "tipping point," a state when both sides have reached a threshold in exhaustion, opening the only road available towards peace. Mr Govender said that when the Right Commission with a Tamil delegation some time back [before the Rajapakse presidency] he thought that tipping point had been reached in Sri Lanka conflict.
"But it is a great tragedy when the parties were so close to a settlement the process broke down," he said.
Rev. Dr. Deena Muthen, Alpha Revival ministries
Mr. Paulas Ngcobo, member of KZN provincial legislature
Prof. Karthi Govender, South African Human Rights Commission
Govender further said that both sides need leaders who have "the courage to lead and the courage to compromise." He said that the conflict will eventually stop and that "we need to look forwards to that time and plan how we ensure that the people who govern, do so within the rules."
Mr. Paulas Ngcobo member of KZN provincial legislature, spoke on behalf of Finance Minister Zwele Mkhize.
"This is a great gathering of men and women who are prepared to fight for their fellow human beings linked by language and culture. Under the apartheid regime, interfaith gatherings galvanised many of us into action," Mr. Ngcobo said.
"We shouldered the burden ourselves to defend our human rights. This gathering should be viewed as an indication that we have committed citizens who are prepared to promote peace and stability in the world, across continents."
"Most importantly, this gathering serves as a reminder to us as
government that we must continue to respond with greater commitment and urgency to rid the world of moral injustice and discrimination."
Rev. Dr. Deena Muthen from Alpha Revival ministries, Mrs. K. Sothinathan, president of the Arutpa Kazhagam, and Mulana Ismail Sheik of Bayview Mosque rendered prayers at the event.
A video screening of documentary on Black July featuring eyewitness accounts and personal experiences shared by survivors of the riots in 1983 now living abroad, was shown to the participants.
After the 1983 pogroms, around half a million Tamils fled to western countries from Sri Lanka.
More than 90% of the Tamils living in South Africa are of South Indian origin.
The event was organised by the Tamil Coordinating Committee - South Africa (TCC-SA).