Due to the COVID-19 lockdown the Tamil Genocide Remembrance Day ceremony was held on line. The occasion was very moving. This is my speech to mark the occasion.
Today, May 18, is a most significant date for Tamils in Sri Lanka and the diaspora Tamil community scattered around the world.
Today is the 11th anniversary of one of the worst crimes ever committed.
In May 2009 the Sri Lankan armed forces led by the Rajapaksa family and supported by the mainstream Sri Lankan political leadership murdered around 100,000 Tamils.
As the civil war drew to an end the Sri Lankan government had ordered up to 400,000 civilians to gather on beaches they had designated as “no fire zones”. Once corralled on the beaches Tamils – civilians and Tamil Tigers – were bombed and shot at for days. For so many the enormity of the killings and suffering was unbearable.
The civil war did end but conditions have not improved for Tamils in Sri Lanka – poverty has not been reduced, press freedom has not been restored and the judiciary are now under political control. And Tamils continue to suffer – women are raped, people disappear and the land and homes of Tamil people are confiscated.
When I visited Sri Lanka in 2013 as part of a member of parliament fact finding mission so many people spoke to our delegation about the urgent need for an independent international investigation into the genocide of Tamils, and into the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during and after the civil war.
I believe that the Sri Lanka authorities and past and present leaders should be investigated and held accountable for these crimes.
For the past decade successive Australian governments have been silent on what happened to Tamils in May 2009 and the crimes still being committed against Tamils.
Australia should not be sending asylum seekers back to Sri Lanka – I have heard shocking stories about what has occurred when the Australian government forced Tamils to return.
We will never forget what happened in 2009 to the Tamil people and why they continue to suffer.
Together we must amplify our call to the international community to fully investigate the crimes of genocide against the Tamil people.
Together we support self-determination for the Tamil people. Tamil Eelam forever.