Monday, February 2, 2009

Hunger strike for Sri Lanka in Australia

Source: AusSgWorldPolitics

A group of activists have launched a hunger strike campaign in Martin Place, Sydney, urging the Australian government to not only condemn the killings, but also call for a ceasefire so that humanitarian aid can reach the affected areas in North East of Sri Lanka.

According to a volunteer I spoke to, the organisers of the protest are hoping to gain permission to continue their hunger strike at this busy location though they are still at the stage of negotiation with the authorities at the moment.

The group hopes that more Australians will support their effort by coming down to Martin Place and signing the petition which will be submitted to the Australian government, demanding concrete action.

Alternatively, they urge concerned citizens to write or call the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Stephen Smith at Stephen DOT Smith DOT MP at aph DOT gov DOT au or 02 6277 7500 to act on this humanitarian crisis.

The hunger strike is led by nine youths who have passed the 48 hour mark by 3 pm today. According to the official blog site, Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard has yet to response though Stephen Smith has worded a statement expressing concern on this matter.

In the leaflet circulated by the organisers, former US deputy Associate General Bruce Fein has said that ‘… what is happening to Tamils in Sri Lanka is a clear-cut case of genocide’ while the German Foreign Minister, Frank- Walter Steinmeir was quoted that the ‘most important thing now is to negotiate a cease fire’.

According to an AP report quoting the Red Cross, 250,000 civilians are estimated to be trapped in this territory as the ‘overall humanitarian situation remains precarious for thousands’. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, has also expressed concern over the ban of aid workers and reporters from entering the conflict zone by the Sri Lanka government, which ‘adds to concerns that the situation may be even worse than we realize’.