Tamils march around Wellington, the press doesn’t seem to care.

In contrast to the media frenzy I witnessed over the S92a Petition being presented at lunchtime yesterday, only a couple of media representatives were on hand to record this. At least Scoop posted something vaguely accurate – although there were more like 200-plus Tamils, including children in the count, which I confirmed by asking one of the organisers.

The combined Tamil communities of Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Palmerston North gathered in Wellington on Thursday (19th February 2009) to march through town and around to the British and Indian High Commissions, and the American Embassy, before arriving at Parliament to entreat the Government to issue a statement condemning the actions of the Indian Government in their military actions in Northern Sri Lanka against the Tamil peoples.

After waiting patiently while another group of petitioners were addressed on Parliament steps, the crowd stood waving banners and chanting “Free Tamil Eelam”, and “Help Us”.
Green Party MP Keith Locke came to address the crowd from the forecourt.

A dvd of footage taken during recent military actions against Tamil communities in northern Sri Lanka was being distributed to interested media, in order to show the kind of warfare occurring, and conditions in which the wounded and dying were being managed.
The hand-held, shaky images, with voiceover by the cameraperson, are powerful and ultimately very disturbing. There are no UN or Red Cross personnel allowed in Tamil-held parts of Sri Lanka, so there are few medical supplies, no adequate water or sterile situations for examining wounded and dying civilians brought to treatment stations.
The footage shows children screaming hysterically at the feet of sheet-wrapped corpses, traumatised by the bombing they have just survived, as much as the violent death of a parent just witnessed.
Children found by a camera operator, sitting in a dirt trench behind a collapsed house, the most minimal bomb shelter you can imagine, crying with fear and traumatised, waiting for older siblings or parents to return. Not leaving, because they have been trained to stay until they are told to come out …

More information about actions taking place in other countries at the links below.

Tamilnet
British Tamils Forum
Canadian Tamils site

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9 thoughts on “Tamils march around Wellington, the press doesn’t seem to care.

  1. I’m glad you’ve written about this – the lack of media attention and caring generally about the plight of Tamils is really upsetting.

  2. I just lost a long reply, so I’ll try and summarise.

    I would treat any claim on TamilNet or the other sites with great caution. TamilNet is often described as the mouthpiece of the LTTE, and while it may have no formal association, it is anything but a neutral outlet.

    Neutral organisations have observed appalling atrocities from both sides in recent weeks. Although, of course, access is limited as over the last few years attacks on civilian agencies by both sides have made their presence nearly impossible.

    Brad Adams, HRW: “The government and the LTTE appear to be holding a perverse contest to determine who can show the least concern for civilian protection.”

    The LTTE and Govt of SL are both responsible for civilian deaths. The Govt of SL has refused to allow a humanitarian pause to allow civilians to evacuate. The LTTE has been holding civilians against their will as human shields and forced labour. The LTTE has launched attacks on fleeing civilians in order to make them stay, according to Human Rights Watch
    http://www.hrw.org/en/reports/2009/02/19/war-displaced

    This is a very ugly business, and needs the world’s attention.

    It doesn’t need a whole bunch of people waving LTTE banners in Auckland and Wellington getting support from the Greens for their “Tamil Eelam”. Unfortunately, this crisis has been spun such that it proves the given truths of hardliners either side – that the others are evil, and winning this war is the only solution and the only way to a longlasting peace.

    There are voices for peace of Sinhalese and Tamil ethnicity, but they are drowned out by nationalist radicals, and very often threatened and intimidated and sometimes killed (including in the UK, Canada, and elsewhere). I hope that the Greens back their voices rather than give comfort to LTTE supporters.

  3. Hi George,

    Yes, I am aware of the LTTE involvement.

    I have also had Tamil acquaintances in Wellington for over 25 years, one of whom is a Professor in the Pol Sci School, Prof Krishnamurthy. His daughter studied with me, and we discussed how her family were slowly getting more of their kin and friends into NZ, as the situation worsened.

    This is a long, slow-burning conflict, much like the Northern Irish troubles, just not very well publicised due to conventional western post-colonialist biases, and a lack of vital natural resources for the major powers to really care about getting into the scrap.

    I’m cynical enough now to think that if Sri Lanka had any oil deposits, it would be over-run with UN troops, making the world safe for SUV’s stateside.
    The situation in Gaza is of equal murkiness, equally fraught with long-held tensions, and yet it has been flooded with media attention, political discourse and aid.

  4. It is not that hte pres does not care but that they have been well informed enough to know that the wild and outrageous accusations the demonstrators make of Sri Lanka are entirely baseless. The press therefore are being mindful of their obligation to be resposible in what they give punlicity to. ie that it should be ony to claims that have a genuine basis.

  5. I’m curious that this post has just received another comment, right when a bunch of e-mails vanished from my inbox for several days while being intercepted by the inept investigators of the not-so-SIS.

    I’m inclined to suspect trolling, but I will let that comment stand.
    Interpret the statements made as you will.

    BTW, to all previous commentators:
    I write on this blog as a member of the g-blog team;
    neither a representive of Green Party policy, nor as a parliamentary staffer, just in case anyone was confused.
    These are my own positions, for better or for worse, and by the grace of long-suffering friends and collegues, my words are neither edited by others, nor censored.

    Caveat Emptor enough f’ya? 😉

  6. Wonder if the same people who “stole” your emails, also “stole” the Don Brash National party ones.

    You know those that ended up in Nicky Hagars book, what was, ah yes The Hollow Men.

    Maybe his next book is about Hollow Women?

    Maybe it is not the SIS, but Nicky Hagar’s associates?

    Quite apart from the above irony, you really need to call the police if emails have arrived and then disapeared from your inbox, or email filling system.

  7. Actually, it’s the other way around, Gerrit.

    The time-stamp on the e-mail shows when it was sent by the initiator.
    The date and time-stamp at arrival in my inbox doesn’t tally, by 12 – 48 hours, depending on what day of the week.
    These are indicators of sloppy surveillance, by SIS/Police, currently being used against those who are associates of arrestees from the October 15th raids.

    And yes, this is evidential disclosure material, I can’t explain it any better because the matters are sub judice. My e-mails appear in the papers disclosed to my friends’ lawyers.

    My veiled references are also part of my personal coping strategies – in person, I use a lot of black humour to deal with the anger about what has been happening. And I regularly joke with Keith about what we know, and what we suspect, to be true. :-p

    May the road rise up to greet you,
    May the wind be at your back,
    And may the CIA know you’re dead,
    Half an hour after the fact.

    (with apologies to my catholic friends, who may recognise my transliteration of this celtic trad. rhyme)

  8. Those time delays are not that uncommon but certainly on the upper limit.

    Well good luck though I have a feeling it may be paranoi placed at the wrong feet.

    They (and I’m not sure it is the SIS or police) dont need 12 hours to read your emails. About a second to copy and divert that copy to another email address is all that is needed by even the most amateur snoop with a basic knowledge of the email catchall address system at your email server.

    I would say that the every email is able to be intercepted and am amused by the antics of people like the CIA who try and pick up suspect emails.

    Anyone with sensitive documents uses snail mail, courier bag or personal delivery for distribution.

    The last being the safest choice.

    Mind you how much do you trust the personal delivery person. They could be working for the state. Any how much can you trust your document recipient? Are they working for the state?

  9. Thanks Kyle,

    as I commented a few months ago, it’s hardly a new topic to me; New Zealand has hosted political refugees from Sri Lanka, a former British colony, for decades, by virtue of our ability to take in those who are members of former British Commonwealth countries.

    There is a lot to look at internationally on the topic of Sri Lanka; it’s basically a very messy civil war, with a bit of help from mainland India, and possibly a few weapons-dealing western nations. (take your pick, I don’t think there’s much in the way of clean hands anywhere east of the Nile, the West are pretty much bankrolling themselves on the arms trade to the third world.)

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