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India citizens voices in solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka

by Saheli, 30 January 2009

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Protest against Human rights violations in Sri Lanka and the violent
curbing of the freedom of press

Following the brutal attacks and murders of media persons in Sri Lanka in
the past fortnight alone, there have been a number of protests in Sri Lanka
and around the world.

This protest is to come together in solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka
to raise our voices against the violation of Human Rights in Sri Lanka and
the brutal curbing of the freedom of press. This is to protest the violence
meted out by state and non-state actors on the people of Sri Lanka. It is an
attempt to assert that we stand for the dignity, respect and rights of all
people, at all times, across the world.

Please endorse the statement below and join us for the protest with
placards, slogans, songs and candles.

Time: 5:30 PM
- Venue: Jantar Mantar, New Delhi
- Date: Saturday, 31st January, 2009.

Sri Lanka - War next door. Violations of human rights. Curbing of all
freedoms including that of expression

Next door to the world’s largest democracy is a small island of a population
of 20 million with people of different religions, ethnicities and castes.
This little island; Sri Lanka has been torn apart by war for the past 25
years and more.

A group of rebels representing the minority Tamil population of the country
began fighting for the rights of this community in 1983. These rebels went
on to set up state-like mechanisms in certain parts of the country- namely
the north and the east. They antagonised many persons including progressive thinkers among the Tamils who argued for civil methods of asserting the rights of the community as well as the Tamil speaking Muslims, who have now come to be understood as a different ’ethnic’ community in the country.

Their representation of the Tamil people has come into question over the
years while Sri Lanka saw a series of regressive governments. The present
government epitomises the fascist tendencies among some parts of the
majority Sinhala community. The government did not take forward the peace processes, however abysmal they may be, initiated by the earlier
governments. Instead they have been on a complete and unabashed military offensive. This offensive is being launched in the name of protecting the country and the interests of the people. The number of civilian deaths in the process are unaccounted for and the interests being protected seems to include only regressive Sinhala fascist values which seeks to quell the diversity and vibrance of Sri Lankan society. This government has spent all its energy (and money) on this war leaving all else in the fray. The economy has suffered as have the everyday lives of people in a way not seen before.

To continue and justify a war, we know from history, that many facts and
truths have to be covered up. The present government has categorically
doused out many voices of dissent both Sinhala and Tamil and continues to do so. Attacks on freedom of press and expression have a long history in Sri
Lanka. The recent deaths of journalists, who had the courage to expose the
truths about this war, are only another moment in that unfortunate history.

The Indian government’s reaction to this war has been harmful at worst or
meaningless at best. There are a number of other political reactions in
India which are sectarian in nature which take the side of the Liberation
Tigers of the Tamil Eelam (LTTE) or the Sri Lankan Government, entirely
forgetting that the interests of the people of this small island are not
being met by either parties.

As progressive individuals who believe in the values of freedom, dignity,
respect and rights, it is imperative that we raise our voice against the
complete disregard for the lives of innocent citizens and the brutal curbing
of the freedom of expression. If we do not raise our voices now, we will be
next door to ruthless fascist dictatorship that we would have to tolerate at
best or contend at worst. Let us come together to say no to the violation of
human rights of the people of Sri lanka and the brutal killing of those who
seek to tell the truth.

Let us raise our voices in solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka

  • Hiren Gandhi
  • Dr. Saroop Dhruv
  • Shalini Krishnan
  • Vineeta Bal
  • Anja Kovacs
  • Priya Thangarajah
  • Sophie Murphy
  • Lesley Esteves
  • Akshara Ravishankar
  • Anusha Chandrasekhar
  • Gautam Bhan
  • Deepti Sharma
  • Ponni Arasu
  • Janaki Abraham
  • Siddharth Singh
  • Hannah Jayapriya
  • Anne Philpott
  • Jagori
  • Tanuja
  • Yalini Marian Thambinayagam
  • Saheli
  • Sunil Gupta
  • Ratna Appnender
  • Pramada Menon
  • Bhavani Fonseka
  • Dunu Roy
  • Pratiksha Baxi
  • Other Media