U.S. rally commemorating Black July draws over 600
[TamilNet, Friday, 25 July 2008, 11:58 GMT]
People for Equality and Relief in Lanka (PEARL), a US-based advocy group, held a rally Thursday at Russell Senate Park, commorating the 25th anniversary of Black July, and the rally was attended by over 600 participants from several U.S States. Two U.S. Congress members through letters of support read at the rally recognized the American Tamils' effort highlighting the human rights crisis in Sri Lanka. The rally also protested the financial support provided by the Chinese Government to the Governments of Sri Lanka and Burma.
US Black July Rally July 2008
The rally was held in partnership with the U.S. Campaign for Burma (USCB), which commomeratd the “8.8.88 Uprising” in Burma, in which thousands of peaceful protestors calling for the restoration of democracy were killed by that country’s armed forces.
Speakers included a member of Congress and representatives from numerous human rights organizations including STAND, Genocide Intervention Network and Reporters Without Borders. These human rights organizations joined PEARL and USCB in their demand that China end its support for the militaries of countries that have violated international human rights and humanitarian standards.
Last year, Chinese aid to Sri Lanka grew to $1 billion, making it the country’s single largest donor, while it continued to act as Burma’s most important ally, providing billions in weapons and aid.
Participants called for the U.S. government’s help in ending the human rights crisis in Sri Lanka by advocating for U.N. human rights monitors on the ground.
Washington Rally with Capitol building in the background
The rally concluded with a vigil to commemorate the victims of Black July, in which survivors of the pogrom shared their experiences. Others read the testimonials of survivors, performed commemorative songs and recited poems in honor of the victims. PEARL emphasized that the Government of Sri Lanka has continued its systematic attacks against Tamil civilians, journalists and aid workers, in the 25 years since the tragedy of Black July.