An international youth conference in Chennai last week hosted over 700 students and urged Commonwealth nations, to boycott the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Sri Lanka.
The conference, organised by the Students’ Struggle Committee for Tamil Eezham and the Save Tamils Movement, a coalition of college students and IT professionals in Tamil Nadu, brought together students, from London, Karapgur and other Indian districts to express Solidarity with the cause of Eelam Tamils.
Students from several universities across Tamil Nadu, including Loyola College, IIT Madras and IIT Kharagpur spoke on the plight of Eelam Tamils in Sri Lanka, and demanded that India boycott CHOGM.
S Elangovan of the Save Tamils Movement, highlighting the importance of students in the struggle, stressed the need of students to carry on being politically active , even after the end of their student days.
A representative form the British Tamils Forum (BTF) said,
"The Sri Lankan regime has succeeded in fooling the international community with its deceptive language while pursuing its genocidal onslaught."
“We are very much encouraged by the youth movement in Tamil Nadu. We have been following the concerted efforts taken up by the youth in this state to open the eyes of the rest of the world to the genocide that is being committed against the Tamil people of Eelam.”
A student from IIT- Kharagpur questioned the validity of Sri Lanka’s membership to Commonwealth stating,
“When Fiji, Nigeria, Pakistan and South Africa can be suspended from the Commonwealth of nations, why not Sri Lanka, which continues with the structural genocide by destroying temples, churches and mosques?”
Professor Manivannan, of Madras University, stressed that,
“There should be continuity and long term vision in student protests in order to make it more impactful. Their struggle should evolve to a powerful stage of deciding who should rule the nation.”
Professor Paul Newman from Bangalore University, highlighted that almost 20 nations were involved with the suppression of the Eelam Tamils in Sri Lanka, calling for the a boycott of CHOGM he said,
“India should not participate in the summit and even if it does so, the Prime Minister of India should not take part.”
With contributions from various politicians, the conference sought about discussing modes of action to address the Tamil issue.
The organiser of the Save the Tamils movement, Senthil, started the discussion, stating,
“after 2009 it was considered that the Eelam struggle came to a full stop. But that was proved wrong and the vision for Tamil Eelam took a wider angle. Tamil Eelam, from being a vision just the Tamils of Sri Lanka has now become a vision of Tamils all over the world. The 2013 student’s protest has enthused and cheered the Tamils across the globe.”
Veerapandian of the Communist Party of India (CPI), highlighted the absurdness of the holding of CHOGM in Sri Lanka and the resulting headship of the Commonwealth that Rajapaksa will assume.
Jawaharullah of the Manidhaneya Makkal Katchi, listing the core principles of the Charter of Commonwealth nations, questioned if Sri Lanka fulfilled any. Representatives of the Tamil National Communist Party, Tamil National Liberation Movement, reiterated similar views, highlighting that by not strongly calling for a boycott of CHOGM, justice for Eelam Tamils could be pushed further away.
Vaiko, the General Secretary of the MDMK, accused India of supressing voices against Sri Lanka, warning that India’s preservation of unity with Sri Lanka would result in the shattering of unity within India.
The day of discussions ended with the consolidation of a 7 point resolution:
1. The Sinhala-Buddhist Supremacist Sri Lankan government has violated the 1971 Singapore Declaration of Commonwealth principles of equal rights for all regardless of race, colour, creed or political belief. Hence, this conference urges Commonwealth Nations specifically India not to conduct CHOGM summit in Colombo.
2. This conference urges the Commonwealth Council to expel Sri Lanka from Commonwealth foundation as it has killed more than 1.5 lakh Tamil civilians in the war and for continuing the structural – cultural genocide of Tamils.
3. This conference urges the Indian government to heed to the democratic appeal of 70 million people of Tamil Nadu to change the venue of CHOGM summit out of Sri Lanka. If the summit held in Colombo , India should boycott the CHOGM. The conference congratulates the Canadian Prime Minister’s decision to boycott CHOGM in Colombo. Likewise,this conference urges the Prime Minister of India to boycott the commonwealth summit if it is held in Sri Lanka.
4. This conference appeals the commonwealth council to pass a resolution in the council demanding an independent international investigation into war crimes, genocidal crimes committed against Tamils in Sri Lanka.
5. In order to safeguard Tamils in Sri Lanka being subjected to ethnic cleansing even today by means of militarization and Sinhalization , this conference appeals to the International community to work for installing a transitional civil administration under the aegis of international community in north eastern part of the island, the homeland of Tamils as a temporary measure.
6. This conference demands a public referendum among Eezham Tamils in Sri Lanka and diaspora countries as a means for Eezham Tamils, being subjected to ethnic cleansing by Sinhala Supremacist Sri Lankan state for the past 60 years, to choose their political solution in a democratic manner.
7. This conference appeals to the government of Tamil Nadu to pass a resolution in Tamil Nadu State Assembly urging the Prime Minister of India to boycott CHOGM if it is held in Sri Lanka.Further, the conference urges the government of Tamil Nadu to implement the earlier passed resolution seeking economic embargo against Sri Lanka in Tamil Nadu and India.