2ND LEAD

Australian civil society should be outraged by Sri Lankan cricket: Trevor Grant

[TamilNet, Monday, 21 January 2013, 23:58 GMT]
Civil society in Australia should be outraged once they are exposed to the on going persecution faced by Eezham Tamils was the opinion of Trevor Grant speaking to TamilNet following the latest protest on Sunday organized by BSLCC and TYO. The protest was held at the Sydney Cricket Ground and has been the latest in a string of demonstrations focused on exposing Sri Lanka for its protracted genocide against Eezham Tamils and demanding the Australian Government and Cricket Australia to boycott all matches with the Sri Lankan team. Mr. Grant, former chief sports writer at The Age with over 40 years of experience in journalism, further commented that the Australian civil society should be “spearheading the unrelenting demands to their government and sporting bodies to enforce such boycott.”

The protestors, who comprised of Eezham Tamils and Australians, shouted slogans “Don’t let cricket hide genocide” and “Boycott Sri Lanka cricket”, with banners containing the same message and also urging the Australian government to stop deporting refugees.

Besides the BSLCC and the TYO, the protest was joined by Labor for Refugees and the Refugee Action Collective, and was endorsed by numerous Tamil organizations including the Australian Tamil Congress (ATC), Australian Federation Tamil Association (AFTA) and the Eela Thamizhar Association (ETA).

The Tamil community in Australia in general was very supportive of the boycott protests, the organizers said.

Speaking on the role Australian civil society should be playing in the boycott campaign, Grant stated that, “Australian civil society, firstly, should be outraged as they discover, through BSLCC, about the Rajapaksa regime's war crimes and crimes against humanity against the Tamil people at the end of the war in 2009 and the on-going persecution of the Tamils, both in their homeland and by the Australian Government when they assert their legal right to seek asylum in this country.”

Mr. Grant, who is also spearheading the ‘Boycott Sri Lanka Cricket Campaign’ (BSLCC) and works with the Refugee Action Collective, further said “After the outrage should come coherent and unrelenting demands to the Australian Government and Cricket Australia, the governing body of the sport here, to end all cricket matches against Sri Lanka until the Rajapaksa regime agrees to a UN demand for an international independent inquiry into those crimes and until the persecution ends.”

According to event organizers the growing momentum of BSLCC has also become target to attempts by the Sri Lankan High Commissioner to Australia, Thirasa Samarasinghe, to shut down the protests. Grant recently revealed that, “I had learned through my cricket contacts that the High Commissioner rang the authorities at the Melbourne Cricket Ground and demanded that they stop the protests.”

He further commented that, “I think he is using these tactics because the Sri Lankan Government has told him to do something about the publicity the Tamil cause is getting in Australia, and so he does what comes naturally.”

Admiral Samarasinghe, who has been accused of war crimes as the commander of the Sri Lanka Navy when warships bombed and killed thousands of civilians in hospitals and schools towards the end of the war in 2009, made it clear in a radio interview last month that he wanted to stop the protests.

In response to SL High Commissioner’s statements, Kartheeban Arul from the TYO stated that, “The protests will not stop until the genocidal intent of the Sri Lankan government against Eezham Tamils is exposed. We will continue to mobilize civil society and other bodies in Australia behind these demands.”


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