26th of April, 2011

Tamil Youth Organisation (TYO-UK) calls for a boycott of Sri Lankan tourism, goods and cricket

Sri Lanka stands accused of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity against the Tamil population in the north-east of the island.

The Report of the UN Expert Panel on war crimes in Sri Lanka, released on the 25th April 2011, describes in detail how the Sri Lankan military intentionally and systematically shelled areas into which it had previously herded civilians – targeting hospitals and medical treatment points as well as deliberately blocking civilian access to humanitarian aid. According to the UN Panel, up to 135,000 Tamil men, women and children could have been killed in the final stages of the conflict.

As British Tamils, with close links to our community in the North-East of the island, we have been campaigning since 2009 to bring justice to the Tamil people.

We launched the Boycott Sri Lanka Campaign in early 2011 with a particular emphasis on cricket with the start of the World Cup. In view of the tens of thousands of Tamils that remain imprisoned in internment camps, as well as the on-going abductions and killings of Tamil civilians that take place with impunity, we were deeply disturbed by the positive portrayal of Sri Lanka by the media during the World Cup 2011.

We are calling on the British public and the international community to boycott Sri Lanka as a producer of goods, as a tourist destination and as a sporting partner. We believe international isolation will help pressure Sri Lanka into allowing “a full, impartial, independent and transparent investigation” [Navi Pillai, High Commissioner for Human Rights for the UN, 26.04.11] into the final stages of the conflict, as recommended by the UN panel of experts.

In light of the credible allegations of grave human rights abuses committed by the Sri Lankan state, we are deeply disappointed that the upcoming tour of England by the Sri Lankan team remains scheduled to go ahead. We request the ECB (England & Wales Cricket Board) to review this engagement. We feel it is important that any country that is accused of such crimes is denied the right to play cricket in England. Sri Lanka should not be given the opportunity to portray themselves as a fair, cricketing nation.

The ECB has a long tradition of upholding the spirit of cricket as well as acknowledging the importance of taking a moral stance on international cricket. This commitment has been demonstrated previously during the boycott of South Africa in the 1970s and 1980s, as well as the recent boycott of Zimbabwe in 2008.

In order to raise awareness and make our objections peacefully heard, we will be holding a demonstration at Uxbridge Cricket Club on the 14th May 2011. This will coincide with the Sri Lankan cricket team’s first match on their tour of England, which will be played against Middlesex. We will continue to protest at other matches planned throughout the tour, including the matches against England at the Lord’s and Oval cricket grounds.

Business or sporting relations with a state accused of war crimes are morally unacceptable. Until Sri Lanka is willing to accept an independent international investigation and bring those responsible for the gravest of crimes to justice, we all have a responsibility not to encourage the impunity and disregard for human rights � we have a responsibility to boycott Sri Lanka.

For more information please contact info@tyouk.org or 07539444824