Tamil action in Antwerp (Belgium)

On Monday 18 July about 25 activists campaigned at the Groenplaats (central square) in Antwerp, Belgium. The protesters wanted to make the oppression of the Tamil speaking people in Sri Lanka known. They also demanded an independent international inquiry of the war crimes committed in Sri Lanka.

The action brought together Tamil and Belgian activists from Tamil Cultural Organisation (TCO) and Tamil Solidarity (TS). The activists distributed leaflets in Dutch explaining the situation of the Tamil-people in Sri Lanka. The action remembered the thousands of war victims from ‘Black July’ 1983 to the brutal killing of 40,000 in the final phase of the war just before May 2009.

Black July was the start of a more brutal and violent campaign against the Tamil people. The Sinhalese establishment used sectarian violence to avoid united resistance of all the oppressed in Sri Lanka. The potential of such resistance was shown in the 1980 public sector strike.

Since 1983 thousands have fled Sri Lanka. In Antwerp alone there are about 2,000 Tamil people. With the action of 18 July they wanted to make the position of Tamil-speaking people in Sri Lanka known. Two years after the official ‘end’ of the war, the situation of the Tamil-speaking population remains very difficult. We cannot expect anything from the international institutions, we need to campaign amongst our own ‘international community’ of ordinary workers.

The activists distributed leaflets, used a petition that calls for and independent inquiry to the war crimes and also had copies of the documentary on Channel 4 for people who wanted to know more. Some local media covered the action.