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Activists and journalists discuss Eelam Tamil issue in Delhi

The National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM) held a meeting in Delhi on 12th August, highlighting the plight of Tamils on the island of Sri Lanka and discussing future plans to campaign for Tamil rights.

The meeting, titled "Human Rights Violations: Sri Lanka and the Tamils", began with a screening of the 'No Fire Zone' documentary, and was attended by activists and journalists from across the world. It was led by renowned Indian social activist Medha Patkar, at the Indian Social Institute, New Delhi.

Speaking at the event, Patkar highlighted the non-violent roots of the Tamil struggle on the island, noting that initially there were peaceful satyagrahas, before armed resistance emerged in the form of a "Tamil people's army".

On the current situation, Patkar said,

"There is a new type of atrocity now.. claiming the economic livelihood of Tamilans".

Dr Gabrielle Dietrich, a professor of social analysis, spoke on atrocities committed on the island, adding

"It was very hurtful to many of us that Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa was invited as a Chief Guest during the Commonwealth Games (held in Delhi in 2010)".

Thusiyan Nandakumar, an Eelam Tamil activist based in the UK, explained the need to recognise the existence of a Tamil nation on the island, and its right to self-determination, as well as the detailing the different facets of genocide that had culminated in Mullivaikkal in 2009, and continue as structural genocide today.

His comments were echoed by the Indian journalist, Revati Laul, who called on Indian press to overcome the "fear" of using the term genocide. Laul, who recently visited the island and wrote a piece in Tehelka "The war may be over, but the idea lives on", addressed the audience, saying

"We cannot look at this as simply human rights violations. To do that makes it benign. We must look at this situation as a genocide."

"To look at it as only human rights takes the politics out of it. This was a conflict between the Sinhala nation and Tamil nation."

Other Indian journalists also addressed the meeting, including Mohua Choudry, who had also visited the island before writing a piece. Addressing the event Choudry detailed how the former bustling capitals of the Tamil homeland, such as Kilinochchi, had becomes "ghost towns". Meanwhile the journalist Satya Sivaram described Sri Lanka, as a "fascist Nazi like state".

Dr Ezhilan Naganathan, a Tamil Nadu activist, detailed the post-independence history of the island and explained how this amounted to a "structural genocide of the Tamil nation".

His comments were reinforced by Valarmathy of the May 17th Movement, who highlighted the failure of the United Nations to intervene in Sri Lanka and detailed all the UN articles that had been violated by the Sri Lankan government.

The closing session of the meeting saw a discussion on future strategies for the organisation, with Vijay Pratap from the Socialist Front and Dr Sunilam from the NAPM, calling for nationwide exhibitions to be held that highlight the genocide that took place. Speaking in Hindi, Dr Sunilam concluded calling for greater networking with other activists from across Asia, and building solidarity with trade unions.

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