Sunday, November 23, 2008

Two women take hunger strike at Speakers Corner for Sri Lanka

"Blood flowing like a river"

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Andrew Loh / The Online Citizen

In a quiet little corner of Hong Lim Park on Saturday, two women sit silently. In their hearts were the victims of the on-going war in Sri Lanka.


As the sky threatens to open up and raindrops begin to fall, Madam Susila and Madam Annapoorani tell The Online Citizen (TOC) that they are observing a silent, non-violent demonstration.


“It’s a motherly feeling that we have towards the children of
Sri Lanka whom we see on the news,” says Mdm Susila. “We are here to show our concern for the war there.” The two women decided to go to Speakers’ Corner because it broke their hearts to see the victims of the war on television and they wanted to do something. “My heart just can’t take it,” Mdm Susila says.


She is 66 years old and has three children. Her two daughters are in
Malaysia and Canada. Her son in Singapore had earlier brought her to Hong Lim Park at 1pm and is very encouraging of her presence there today. “Singaporeans should help stop the war,” Mdm Susila urges. She has a special affinity with Sri Lankans as her cousin is married to a Sri Lankan woman who now lives in Singapore.


The two women at today’s demonstration have been friends for 48 years. Mdm Annapoorani, who is 75, tells TOC that her family of three boys and three girls has given her their “full support” for today’s event.


Accompanied by four friends, the women were undeterred as the rain got heavier at one point. They opened their umbrellas and continued to sit in quiet defiance. Mdm Susila suffers from asthma but she was determined to see through the six-hour protest, in spite of the weather. She and Mdm Annapoorani have been fasting since
7am.


Mr Thamizhmaraiyan, one of the friends of the women, told TOC that they had wanted to put an advertisement in the Tamil language newspaper, Tamil Mirasu. “We wanted to let people know about this protest and ask them to join us,” he said. But the newspaper rejected their advertisement. “We were willing to pay for the advertisement,” says Mr Thamizhmaraiyan, clearly disappointed.


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