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Melbourne Rallies on Tamil Genocide Day

May 18 is observed to commemorate the Mullivaikal massacre


During the end stages of the Sri Lankan civil war in 2009, the Sri Lankan government declared the Mullivaikkal beach a no-fly zone, promising safety for Tamil civilians. The Sri Lankan military trapped and massacred 70,000 Tamil civilians (a conservative estimate), remembered today as the Mullivaikkal massacre. Local census records 146,679 people missing - presumed dead.


May 18 is known around the world as Tamil Genocide Day to commemorate the Mullivaikal massacre.


On Saturday, May 16, the Tamil Refugee Council organised marches on unceded Kulin and Gadigal Nations (Melbourne and Sydney) to commemorate the Mullivaikkal massacre and protest the ongoing military occupation of Tamil Eelam. Despite twelve years since the Mullivaikkal massacre, the military and government officials responsible for these war crimes remain in their senior leadership positions.


Mullivaikkal at Jaffna University – dozens of Sri Lankan police and army deployed around the campus since last night to prevent any memorial events from happening. Intelligence personnel also loitered in the area. Troops were brought in on buses and were stopping and questioning passers-by. Two journalists were prevented and had their motorcycle keys confiscated while questioned. Police threatened them with arrest for photographing the area and demanded they delete images from their cameras.

 


Tamils have struggled against genocide, dispossession, and marginalisation since Independence in 1948. The situation is unsafe, and many Tamil people fear persecution and continue to seek refuge in other countries. North-Eastern Sri Lanka remains one of the most heavily militarised regions in the world. It’s estimated that there is one soldier for every six civilians. Surveillance, torture, and harassment against Tamil civilians continue. The Sri Lankan army continues to occupy state land not intended for military purposes and civilian-owned private land.

 

In 2017, a Human Rights Watch report estimated 40 000 Tamil civilians remain internally displaced. In addition, the army maintains economic dominance in agricultural and commercial activities, obstructing economic recovery for local farmers and businesses. Furthermore, there is the ongoing destruction of Tamil monuments and cultural spaces with military backing in a systematic campaign to change the cultural demographics of Tamil homelands.

 


The Naarm (Melbourne) rally was opened by Bunjileenee, Djuran Bunjileenee, aka Robbie Thorpe, of the Krauatatungalung Tribe, Gunnai nation. We heard from Pavithran Sivanathan, a survivor of the Mullivaikkal massacre and core member of the “Congee (Kanchi) of Hope'' initiative. We also heard from Dr Senthorun Raj, professor and pro-bono lawyer with the Tamil Refugee Council and the Home to Bilo Team - assisting with the legal case for Priya, Nades and their two young children. They have been incarcerated at the Christmas Island detention centre for the last three years.


There was support from the Australian Burmese Rohingya Organisation, Aung Soe Naing shared solidarity from the Free Rohingya Organisation. Both [Victoria] Trades Hall Council Executive and Australian Education Union (AEU) Branch Council have declared their solidarity with the Australian Tamil community in its total opposition to the racist military invasion of their territories in the north and east of Sri Lanka.

 

Tamil survivors of the Mullivaikkal massacres are fighting for justice and the right to self-determination. We must stand in solidarity by building a principled opposition that exposes the ongoing genocidal process against Eelam Tamils.

About the author

Australian born Punjabi, Taranjeet is passionate about how people hold their cultural identity in the Western World. She is a Social Worker and is committed to speaking about the effects of colonisation, white supremacy and injustice. She plays the harmonium and recently started a podcast, called Language Matters. Instagram: @kaur.healing

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