Two student societies at St. Georges Medical School of the University of London – the International Tamil Society (ITS) and Amnesty International (AI) – cohosted a bake sale on Monday May 23 to raise awareness of war crimes and rights abuses in Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe, and to raise funds for a children’s charity and rights advocacy campaigns.
Drawing undergraduate and postgraduate students and other visitors, the day-long event was intended to inform future health professionals in Britain and elsewhere on war crimes in Sri Lanka and rights abuses there and in Zimbabwe, organisers said.
Background to the campaign:
Sri Lanka stands accused of war crimes against the Tamil population during the final stages of the war in 2009 where up to 135,000 Tamil civilians were killed. Over the past two years leading human rights groups such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and International Crisis Group, as well as political institutions, such as US State Department, the European Commission and the UK government, have called for an independent inquiry to examine alleged crimes against humanity and war crimes committed by the Sri Lankan state and its armed forces against the Tamil civilian population. A report, published by an UN Panel of Experts, accuses the Sri Lankan military of intentionally and systematically shelling areas into which it had previously herded civilians, targeting hospitals and medical treatment points and blocking civilian access to humanitarian aid.
It is because of this that we, the Tamil Youth Organisation UK, are leading a campaign by British Tamils, to call for the suspension of all bilateral sporting arrangements with Sri Lanka until there has been satisfactory progress on human rights and accountability.
As with the widespread boycott of apartheid South Africa and Mugabe’s Zimbabwe, Britain should once again uphold the universal values of human rights. British sports teams should not be playing sport with the national teams of countries that are accused of such heinous crimes.
We believe that Britain has a duty to send a clear political message to Sri Lanka. Until Sri Lanka makes significant progress on investigating allegations of war crimes, England should not be playing cricket with the Sri Lankan national team.
The campaign has really taken off at London universities too, particularly St Georges University –