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'Preserving the fabric of Tamil society in its darkest hour'

Speech by Jan Jananayagam of Tamils Against Genocide at the Mullivaikal Remembrance event at Traflagar Square, London on the 19th of May 2012.


We are here today to honor a people who have, to us, become symbols of strength and courage - a people who overcame unimaginable odds to forge a life of freedom; who taught us the nature of a courage beyond our imagination.

I am particularly proud to attend this memorial event, here in London, in my home city where our fellow Londoners stand in solidarity with us.

Today I want to remember what the de-facto Tamil state in the Vanni symbolized to the Tamil people of the world.

The Vanni was above all a sanctuary. A sanctuary from thehorrifying lawlessness of the Sri Lankan state and its military apparatus.

A military that runs amok today in the Tamil Eelam homeland, eroding and ultimately destroying every good it comes into contact with.

When the Sri Lankan military invaded the Jaffna peninsula in 1995, it was to the jungles of the Vanni that our people fled.

It was here that they constructed a sanctuary that would honor their law and protect their way of life. 

They built the institutions that they hoped would be the foundation of their future.

A justice system and police force that was incorruptible; a social structure that protected the most vulnerable.

They built a society where it was normal for children to walk unaccompanied to school, where women were safe at all times.

They built the institutions of public service that attracted professional volunteers from across the world, whose efficacy as proven during the Tsunami was unrivalled in the world.

Three years after the destruction inflicted on our people, we are only just beginning the enormous work that lies ahead of us. 

The first step of this work is the meticulous recording of the truth.  The testimony of our witnesses, that we preserve now, will shape our future.

It is in this spirit that I record our gratitude and appreciation to all those Tamil institutions that served our people. They continued to serve them after the UN and other International agencies had abandoned them.
Let us appreciate the tireless staff of the TRO (the Tamil Rehabilitation Organisation), the Tamil doctors and nurses, both the government doctors as well as those trained by the LTTE's own medical services

Let us appreciate also the administrative units that worked till the very end building shelters, manning the food lines, and sharing out the ever-diminishing supply of food. To the men and women in uniform who carried the injured and the dying to the hospitals and who took care of the bodies wherever they could.
Let us appreciate the Tamil media and photographers who worked till the very end to preserve the evidence for posterity.

To all these and every one who worked to preserve the fabric of Tamil society in its darkest hour we owe our eternal gratitude.
Let us remember the tens of thousands of men and women who in myriads of ways unflinchingly defended the people from SriLanka’s annihilation.

In 2009 the Tamil people were isolated and our few friends were helpless. 

Every international institution abandoned its duty and walked away. Not just the United Nations and international aid agencies but also the international media.

Now 3 years later, the Sri Lankan model of ethnic conflict is recognized as the crucible where the credibility of international rule of law will be tested.

This occurs in a world that is increasingly fragmented along ethnic and religious lines.

Thus an increasing number of thinkers recognize that the accounting for Sri Lanka’s crimes against humanity will indelibly shape the future of our system of international democracy.

This new dawning of understanding would not have been possible without those brave witnesses who have spoken out and without our friends across the world that have given their time and resources towards an accounting for 2009.

Let us then take a moment to appreciate them also – in particular the handful of media professionals, particularly in London, who have brought their enormous talent to bear on shedding light on Sri Lanka, as well as the campaigning civil society organisations, INGOs and legal groups.

And those few individual representatives at the United Nations and in government departments and political parties across the world who made the recent UN resolution possible and who continue to commit themselves to a credible and independent international accounting.

While the shifting of government policy is frustratingly slow, it is no exaggeration to say that the peoples of the world recognize the need for Justice.

And let us dedicate ourselves, this year, as we will do every year, to realizing the deepest dreams of those whom we remember today, the people of the Vanni.

Thamilarin Thaakam Thamil Eela Thayakam
Nanri, vanakkam

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