Ilankai Tamil Sangam
19th Year on the Web
Association of Tamils of Sri Lanka in the USA
California Tamil Remembrance Day sets Precedent by Bringing Together Genocide Victims from Various Communities
by US Tamil Political Action Council, PRWeb, May 18, 2012
Palo Alto, CA (PRWEB) May 18, 2012
On Sunday May 13th, Tamil Americans in Northern California Bay Area marked the third anniversary of May 2009, when at least 40,000 innocent Tamil civilians (http://www.journalism.co.uk/news-commentary/frances-harrison-sri-lanka-journalists-failed-to-tell-the-story-of-war-crimes/s6/a549285/) were killed by the Sri Lankan military during its “war without witnesses.” As a sign of unity, the leaders of various Tamil diaspora organizations came together for this Remembrance Day. Notable among them were the Prime Minister of theTransnational Government of Tamil Eelam, the Hon. Visvanathan Rudrakumaran, the President of the Global Tamil Forum, Rev. Dr. S.J. Emmanuel, and the President of United States Tamil Political Action Council, Dr. Elias Jeyarajah. Also in attendance were prominent human rights activists, representatives of Amnesty International’s local chapter, as well as San Jose City Council member Ash Karla. Congressman Mike Honda’s office issued a statement in support of the community gathering. Rwandan Americans joined Tamil Americans in solidarity, while the Darfur, Kosovar, and Armenian communities offered their full support to the event.
The mood was somber but energized, as victims of genocide from different communities shared personal stories and emphasized the importance of recording their history for the sake of catharsis and accountability. While the quest for accountability by the Sri Lankan government for its genocide against Tamils has made little progress, the Honorable Prime Minister of the Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam made a strong call to action by expressing the sentiment that we should give meaning to the deaths of so many by realizing their dreams. Father S.J. Emmanuel, President of the Global Tamil Forum, urged all participants to get involved by working together to rebuild the battered Tamil community.
Rwandan community member Vincent Mugabo recalled the world’s inaction during the Rwandan genocide, and the subsequent pursuit of justice, and urged Tamils not to be discouraged and to continue their struggle for accountability and justice. In keeping with the event’s theme – “Remembering and Reflecting: A Path to Accountability” – attendees wrote down their memories and dreams for inclusion in a time capsule that will be re-opened in five years’ time. The participation of genocide victims from various parts of the world made this event particularly unique, and was a testament to the diversity and solidarity inherent in the Bay Area community.
Remembrance events are being held in several other cities across the US, including Raleigh, Columbus, Boston, and a “Justice for Genocide” (http://www.prweb.com/releases/2012/5/prweb9483455.htm) mass rally and vigil on Friday, May 18 in front of the United Nations building in New York City. Tamil Americans from across the country took action to mark the day by attending an “Advocacy Day” on Capitol Hill, meeting with their elected representatives seeking their help in implementing the UN Human Rights Council Resolution (http://news.yahoo.com/ustpac-welcomes-first-step-towards-accountability-sri-lanka-155653654.html) on accountability in Sri Lanka. On Thursday, a briefing was held for the US House Foreign Affairs Committee that screened the documentary “Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields” and its sequel “War Crimes Unpunished (http://www.channel4.com/programmes/sri-lankas-killing-fields/episode-guide/series-2/episode-1).” The event, hosted by Representatives Bill Johnson and Michael Grimm, included an expert panel consisting of Scott Gilmore (Center for Justice and Accountability), Ali Beydoun (American University, Washington College of Law), and representatives from Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the International Crisis Group.
On the eve of bilateral meetings between Secretary Hillary Clinton and Sri Lankan Foreign Minister G.L. Peiris, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch issued statements and sent letters to Sec. Clinton pointing to the failure of Sri Lanka to implement the UN resolution and calling for independent international investigations into the mass atrocities committed in Sri Lanka against the Tamils.
For event photos click here:http://www.ustpac.org/photos/May2012_events.html