Australia, New Zealand Tamils Commemorate Black July

[TamilNet, Sunday, 27 July 2008, 20:36 GMT]
In marking the 25th anniversary of Black July, Australian Tamils held three different events, a Friday morning rally at the heart of Sydney, followed by a protest meeting at Burwood Park, Burwood, and on Saturday afternoon a photographic exhibition in Melbourne at the State Library Forecourt, opposite the Melbourne Central Railway Station. Meanwhile, New Zealand Tamil Medical Association (NZTMA) and the Tamil Youth Organistion (TYO-New Zealand) organised a blood donation drive, and on Friday held a vigil marking the Black July.

Sydney  Tamil commemorate Black July
Black July event, Sydney, Australia.


New Zealand Tamils Commemorate
The NZTMA and TYO-New Zealand held a blood donation drive in conjunction with Black July.
More than 200 Australians assembled in Sydney City on Friday to protest the Sri Lankan State sponsored genocide towards Sri Lanka's Tamils.

Police cordoned off main roads in the city as the demonstrators made their way beating drums at 10:30 a.m. Covering their mouths with black cloths to symbolise the oppressed cries of the Tamils' and participants finished the demonstration with the cries of "The charge is genocide; the struggle is for freedom!"

The rally shut down several key transport arteries as it moved from State Parliament House towards Sydney Town Hall.

The rally commenced with a testimony from Mrs Nalayini Santhra who shared her experience of Black July, where rioters supported by the government threw burning tyres upon her father and brother, burning them alive. She was 17 years old at the time.

"History keeps repeating itself in Sri Lanka. Tamils are being killed and abducted on a daily basis, but the news just doesn't get as much publicity as Zimbabwe or Darfur. So we decided to beat some drums and make some noise about it!" said Raj Jega, a university student.

Australian Tamil commemorate Black July
Australian Tamil commemorate Black July
Australian Tamil commemorate Black July
Australian Tamil commemorate Black July
After the rally, participants moved to the Sydney suburb of Burwood, and assembled at Burwood Park, where many Tamil organisations of Sydney, under the leadership of the Australasian Federation of Tamil Associations, held a peaceful protest meeting held from 12 – 2 pm.

This meeting was held in front of the war memorial in the park. Lord Mayor of Burwood John Faker opened the event by lighting a candle and a 2 minutes silence was observed as mark of respect for all those who perished during the Black July 1983 and thereafter in the 25 year long struggle for freedom.

``Australia and Burwood are blessed with a vibrant multicultural community and the Tamil community are a welcome and important part of our diverse nation,'' Cllr Faker told the gathering. ``Many people from the Tamil community came to Australia in the most difficult of circumstances. Many migrants have come from homelands that have been troubled by conflict - to build a prosperous future for their families here in Australia. And Australia has benefited greatly from their endeavors.

"I know that all Australians, no matter where they were born, live their lives in a peaceful and harmonious way. But it's also appropriate that we remember both our heritage and our homelands and to pay tribute to the memory of those who have suffered,'' Cllr Faker added.

A 1983 survivor, Mr Naganathan said: ``I'm here to express and share my experience and thoughts on Black July. It was a traumatic experience. I witnessed acts of murder, deaths and other criminal acts. I'd like to share one particular incident; where 17 members of a family including men, women and children, got locked up and were burnt alive.''

Messages by Federal Labor MPs John Murphy (Lowe) and Laurie Ferguson (Reid) were read out. Strathfield councilor and Labor party’s Strathfield branch chair Keith Kown and a Uniting Church Pastor Rev. Joon Kim also addressed the gathering. Both shared the parallels between what both Koreans and Tamils have been through and comforted the Tamils by saying that holding commemorations like this are not going to be in vein.

Speaking at the event representing the Eelam Tamil Association, Dr. Victor Rajakulendran said that, “I would like to remind the international community today that, if Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir and former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic are indicted for war crimes and crimes against humanity and genocide in the International Criminal Courts, Rajapaksas of Sri Lanka also could be indicted for similar crimes in the ICC.”

He added that, “Eelam Tamil association believes, a political solution, recognising the Tamils of Sri Lanka as a Nation, their entitlement to claim the territory they have historically occupied as their homeland and their right to self-determination can only, put an end to this, 60 years long suffering of the Tamil people in Sri Lanka. Therefore on this important day for the Tamils, I appeal to the Australian government and all the peace loving Australians, to make every effort to find that political solution and save the Tamils in Sri Lanka from State sponsored Terrorism.”

On Saturday afternoon Tamils in Melbourne gathered at the State Library Four Court, in front of the Melbourne Central Railway Station to commemorate Black July and draw the attention of the Australian public to the plight of Tamil people in Sri Lanka.

A photographic and video exhibition organised at the steps of the Library Four Court attracted the attention of the Australian public. A Tamil youth band provided the entertainment at the exhibition site.

Black July event,
Black July event, Melbourne, Australia.
Black July event,
Black July event, Melbourne, Australia.
Australian Tamil commemorate Black July
Australian Tamil commemorate Black July
Black July event, New Zealand.
Black July event, New Zealand.
New Zealand Tamils Commemorate
The NZTMA and TYO-New Zealand held a blood donation drive in conjunction with Black July.
Black July event, New Zealand.


Black July event, New Zealand.
Black July event, New Zealand.
New Zealand Tamils Commemorate
The NZTMA and TYO-New Zealand held a blood donation drive in conjunction with Black July.
Black July event,
Black July event, Melbourne, Australia.
Black July event,
Black July event, Melbourne, Australia.


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