Press release:Appeal for help from Tamil-speaking refugees off Indonesian coast

Press release for immediate use:Appeal for help from Tamil-speaking refugees off Indonesian coast

Tamil-speaking refugees, fleeing the horror of war and concentration-style camps in Sri Lanka, held in a boat in Merak harbour, Indonesia have spoken with Tamil Solidarity about their desperation and plans to begin a protest on Monday 26 October  if they do not see steps taken towards an offer of refuge.

Contact Senan on 07 90 80 50 217 for interview and information.

From the boat:
“For over 60 years Tamil-speaking people in
Sri Lanka have faced and continue to face the huge repression of their rights from the Sinhala Buddhist nationalist governments. Not one international government, either from the west or from Asia, intervened on behalf of the oppressed minority to counter the attacks. The lives of thousands of ordinary Tamil-speaking people have been lost as, under the present Rajapakse government, Sinhala chauvinism has peaked.

“Children have lost parents. People have lost entire families. A generation of young people has lost its future as education provision has been decimated. The suffering of Tamil-speaking people is unspeakable.

“The Sri Lankan government declared that the war is over. But people around the world know and are shocked that over 250,000 people are suffering in so-called refugee camps, which are in fact torture camps. In all parts of Sri Lanka Tamil-speaking people have been arrested and killed.

“We have lost our loved ones and our lives to the war. We fled Sri Lanka just to save our lives and to safeguard our future and hoped to seek refuge in Australia, a country we believed would recognise our plight.

“On 11 October 2009 our boat was intercepted in international waters and brought to Merak harbour by the Indonesian Navy. From a six month old baby to a 66 year old, including a pregnant woman, we are all still in the boat. For the last two weeks we have been hoping at least one country in the world would take us.

“We understand that among the people of Indonesia there are many different religions. There are over 400 languages including minority languages which are also recognised as national languages. From this we draw hope that our democratic rights would be respected.

“We are dismayed to discover that efforts are being made to detain us in camps or hotels, as we have committed no crime and only seek refuge. We have been made refugees in our own country and have lost everything we had except our lives. What we seek is a country that will not detain us and will provide education and other rights for our young ones.

“We feel we have no choice but to remain on the boat until the UN or any government takes a step to offer us what we so desperately need.

“We are sure that there must be a country that will recognise our desperation and can grant us the very basic rights we seek.

“But until then we are determined to stay in the boat.

  • We appeal to the Indonesian and Australian masses, trade unions, human rights organisations and women’s rights organisations to understand our plight and to support our demands.
  • We are appealing to all who stand against repression and for human rights to do whatever they can to help us. We especially urge the United Nations to act on our behalf.
  • We appeal to our brothers and sisters in Tamil Nadu, in Malaysia and in the Tamil-speaking diaspora around the world who have also suffered the brutality of Sri Lankan governments, to give voice to our desperate cry.

 “We feel like we are helpless. We will begin a protest on the boat on Monday 26 October 2009. We will be seeking solidarity and hoping to clearly raising the points made here. We are communicating this with the help of Tamil Solidarity and the Committee for a Workers’ International.”

Statement In Tamil

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