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Boycott, divestments and sanctions call against Sri Lanka

Tamil Nadu based writer and poet Meena Kandasamy has called upon India to impose a boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Sri Lanka, as "one of the solutions to the continued oppression against Tamils by Sri Lanka".

Writing in Tehelka she stated that "there is no denying the fact that massive international pressure alone can halt the ongoing cultural and structural genocide against the Tamils in Sri Lanka" and called upon India to "sever all diplomatic relations with its island neighbour" and organise a widespread boycott against Sri Lanka.

See her full piece here. Extracts have been reproduced below.

“A visiting football team sends out the superficial message: all is well in Sri Lanka. It does not reveal that 4,000 university teachers have been striking for the past two months demanding better wages and greater spending on education, or that the government ordered the closure of all universities last week. It conceals a genocide that claimed 1 lakh Tamil lives in 2009 and a structural racism that marginalises minorities. In enthusiastically supporting the sporting spirit, even sections of the media fail to note that the football team had no permission to play in Tamil Nadu.”

“Instead of mutely following the dictates of the Central government, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa has stood up for the people of her state. When she sent the football team packing, she showed how far the autonomy of a state could offer resistance to the Indian government, which has repeatedly disgraced Tamil aspirations and sentiments. While we were smarting from the wounds of a genocide that wiped out Tamils in the Vanni, New Delhi added insult to injury by inviting Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse as the chief guest for the 2010 Commonwealth Games. The Tamil Nadu Assembly’s unanimous resolution last year demanding investigation of war crimes and imposing economic sanctions against Sri Lanka has been met with absolute inaction.”

“In a classic twist, it is New Delhi’s mollycoddling of the 21st-century Hitler Rajapakse and his armed forces that is going to implant the idea of self-determination and the national question indelibly in the people of Tamil Nadu, much more decisively than the LTTE or its struggle for Tamil Eelam. If the Centre has any shred of belief in the parliamentary democracy that it espouses, it has to also believe the necessary corollary: the Jayalalithaa-led government and the Tamil Nadu MLAs represent the 60 million people of the state. Their unanimous demands reflect the demands of the people. India, already complicit in the mass killings of Tamils in the Vanni, should ideally restrain itself from doing further harm to the Eelam Tamils.”

“The Hindu, a staunch critic of anyone who criticises Sri Lanka, termed Jayalalithaa’s action “myopic” and went on to say in an editorial that she was asking for, and peremptorily imposing, a “virtual embargo on sporting and cultural ties” with Sri Lankans. On the contrary, such a boycott is one of the solutions to the continued oppression against Tamils by Sri Lanka.

There is no denying the fact that massive international pressure alone can halt the ongoing cultural and structural genocide against the Tamils in Sri Lanka. Boycotts, divestment and sanctions successfully worked against the South African apartheid State. Those who seek to support the Palestinian State have enforced a cultural and intellectual boycott to expose Israel’s policies of exploitation. It is time to apply the same yardstick to the authoritarian Sri Lankan State, a country with a Constitution that explicitly treats Tamils as second-class citizens.

“Not only should the people of Tamil Nadu press upon New Delhi to change India’s foreign policy with respect to Sri Lanka to sever all diplomatic relations with its island neighbour, but they should call upon foreign governments, international movements, cultural artists, intellectuals, universities, revolutionary organisations and ordinary citizens to boycott the genocidal Sri Lankan government and suspend interaction in every possible form until this failed State delivers justice to the Tamils.”

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