Tamils join HR vigil at UN
[TamilNet, Friday, 11 December 1998, 08:26 GMT]
The Association of Sri Lankan Tamils joined more than 45 international organizations in a rally and candlelight vigil in front of UN headquarters in New York yesterday afternoon to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Universal declaration of Human Rights at the United Nations.
In an invited speech at the rally, Visuvanathan Rudrakumaran, lawyer practicing in New York reflected on the genocidal conditions in the Northeast provinces in Sri Lanka.
He referred to General Pinochet's case in the United Kingdom and drew parallels between Pinochet's actions during his rule in Chile and those of members of the Sri Lankan government. Rudrakumaran is also a legal advisor to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
Rudrakumaran pointed out that the Sri Lankan military has been responsible for the death of 50,000 or more Tamil civilians, innumerable disappearances of Tamil youths, numerous rapes and, recently, the alleged Chemmani mass graves. Rudrakumaran said that, given the courts' willingness to "pierce the cloak of immunity and impose personal liability," it is imprudent for the Sri Lankan military and political establishment to "trot their representatives around the world, while they persist in terrorizing, torturing and persecuting the Tamil people."
The theme of the rally was to urge the UN to turn "words into deeds." Special guest speakers from the human rights community, including well known Chinese human rights activist Harry Wu, were present at the rally.
Participating organizations included those from Tibet, East Timor, Zapatistas, Kurds, Mongolia, Sri Lanka and the War Resisters League, Jews Against Genocide, Peace Action, the Brehon Law Society and among others.
Two banners that said "Stop the Genocide of Tamils" and "Help the 500,000 Tamil refugees" were seen among others urging "Free Tibet" and "UN Speak Out."