TN attacks on Sri Lankans: GTF  defends its role, condemns attackers


by Shamindra Ferdinando

The Global Tamil Forum (GTF) yesterday condemned a spate of attacks on Sri Lankan pilgrims, particularly the Buddhist clergy in Tamil Nadu.

UK based GTF spokesperson Suren Surendiran told The Island that violent acts of a few should not be allowed to overshadow, what he called, genuine and sincere protests and peaceful demonstrations, held all over Tamil Nadu, calling for an international independent investigation into alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity and continued persecution of Tamil speaking people by the Sri Lankan government.

When pointed out that in spite of the GTF’s criticism, their ongoing campaign in Tamil Nadu had triggered the recent wave of attacks, Surendiran said their campaign had primarily been to raise awareness and ‘educate our brethren in Tamil Nadu’ on what was going on in Sri Lanka even after the conclusion of combat in May 2009.

Surendiran claimed that no one could dispute their right to emphasise the gravity of the breaches of international humanitarian laws that were committed by the government against Tamil speaking people.

"We have never advocated violence and never will. We unreservedly condemn violence of any nature against any person or any community," Surendiran said.

Asked whether the GTF was pushing for the shifting of Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) from Sri Lanka to Tamil Nadu, Surendiran emphasized that they weren’t alone in opposing Sri Lanka having the opportunity to host the summit.

Surendiran said that the GTF had appealed to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa to push for a change of the venue. "Don’t forget the Canadian government opposes CHOGM being held in Sri Lanka. The UK Foreign Affairs Select Committee, International Crisis Group, Human Rights Watch, the Amnesty International, The Elders, former UK foreign secretary David Miliband, Ex-UN employee in Sri Lanka Gordon Weiss, UK’s Labour and Liberal parties, Sir Malcolm Riffkind UK’s former Conservative Foreign Secretary/Defence Secretary, Many TamilNadu Political and Civil Society Leaders, various bar associations, including the UK, Malaysia, Republic of South Africa et al are also opposed to GoSL heading the CHOGM."

Surendiran expressed confidence that Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa would positively respond to what he called their humble request.

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