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From The Socialist newspaper, 18 September 2013

Commonwealth governments' meeting: Protest against despot Rajapaksa

Keerthikan Thennavan, Tamil Solidarity joint national secretary

Tamil Solidarity is at the forefront of protests against this year's Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Sri Lanka, in November.

The meeting will give a world stage and international legitimacy to the brutal, authoritarian rule of President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

His regime stands accused of war crimes and human rights abuses during and following the all-out military offensive against the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, which ended in May 2009.

In the final months of the conflict, hundreds of thousands of Tamil civilians were forced into so-called 'no-fire zones' where food lines and field hospitals were repeatedly shelled by the Sri Lankan armed forces. Many tens of thousands were killed.

Numerous reports, including by Channel 4 and human rights organisations, have verified this horrific slaughter.

Yet, the British government has granted 49 export licences to the Sri Lankan regime for weapons and military equipment worth 8 million.

After the 2009 carnage, hundreds of thousands of Tamils were rounded up into concentration camps. Thousands are still being detained, thousands more remain unaccounted for.

The predominantly Tamil areas of the north and east of Sri Lanka have been effectively put under military occupation.

A land-grab is underway, similar to the takeover of Palestinian land in the West Bank.

Any assertion of Tamil rights is violently put down. Last November 30 students were arrested under the misnamed Prevention of Terrorism Act, with leading student organisers taken to so-called 'rehabilitation camps'. These camps are used to hold without charge anyone the regime wants to silence.

The Prevention of Terrorism Act and other oppressive laws are used routinely against anyone seen to be in opposition to the regime, including trade unionists, journalists, political and human rights activists, including from the Sinhala majority population.

Tamil Solidarity stands with all those in Sri Lanka campaigning for workers' and full democratic rights, regardless of their ethnic or religious background.

The best way to fight against the divide-and-rule policies of Rajapaksa's regime is to build the unity of working class and oppressed people.

www.tamilsolidarity.org

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