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From The Socialist newspaper, 8 June 2011

Tamil Solidarity: important resolution agreed at the European Parliament

Manny Thain, Tamil Solidarity national secretary

Tamil representatives, solidarity and human rights campaigns and individual activists converged on the European parliament on Wednesday 1 June.

They came from eleven countries - in Europe, Sri Lanka, India, Australia and New Zealand - to a hearing hosted by Socialist Party Ireland MEP, Paul Murphy, on behalf of the European United Left-Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) group of MEPs.

Among the MEPs who participated was Heidi Hautala, Green MEP and chair of the European Parliament's Subcommittee on Human Rights. With around 150 participants, the hearing heard evidence from those who rarely have an opportunity to make their voices heard in the Parliament including witnesses and victims of the war and trade union representatives from Sri Lanka.

The hearing had three sessions: origins of the conflict; the war and its aftermath; the prospects for lasting peace. At the end a resolution was passed.

In particular the resolution called for a GUE/NGL fact-finding delegation to Sri Lanka as soon as is feasible. Heidi Hautala had emphasised the importance of fact-finding in the Sri Lankan context.

In closing the hearing, Paul Murphy said he would do all he could to make this trip a reality and expressed his willingness to go. Agreed 'in spirit', following a thought-provoking discussion, a number of amendments to the resolution are to be considered before it is published.

The hearing was timely. It came soon after the second anniversary of the 'end' of the war, and just after the release of a United Nations' interim report which recognised, at long last, the scale of the death and destruction in 2009.

It also took place on the day the Sri Lankan regime was hosting a meeting in Sri Lanka to promote its false propaganda on the war. Despite the growing and damning evidence, the regime still claims that the killing of 40,000 (at the very least), mainly civilians, and the imprisonment of hundreds of thousands in prison camps were 'humanitarian exercises'.

Alongside absolute brutality is blatant hypocrisy. The day after the hearing the Sri Lankan ambassador in Belgium condemned it as "a mere gimmick".

But in reality, this was an extremely important event that drew together those who are looking at ways to ensure that the struggle for Tamil rights is successful.


Delegates from Tamil Solidarity put forward its strategy of building a campaign linked to the organised working class, in particular the trade unions.

We believe that this would provide a solid base of support among millions of workers internationally, and would link the Tamil issues to this potentially massive social force.

Of course, it is correct to lobby and take the protest to the establishment institutions, such as the United Nations, European and British parliaments, embassies and other bodies at the same time.

It would be wrong, however, to believe that these institutions will come to the rescue of the Tamils. At the end of the day, they reflect the interests of the dominant world powers.

However, with MEPs such as Paul Murphy, Tamils and other oppressed people do have some friends in these places on which they can rely. What is clear is that Tamil-speaking people must rely, above all, on their own power of mass mobilisation, alongside their natural allies in the trade union, workers' and socialist movements internationally.

A number of speakers pointed to the examples of the mass movements in Tunisia and Egypt that successfully removed dictators.

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In The Socialist 8 June 2011:

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Tamil Solidarity: important resolution agreed at the European Parliament

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