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.