Sri Lankans must protest loud and long
Sometimes things happen very fast and you really donít
know what to think.
weekend was a case in point. Sometimes not a single
interesting thing happens to me for months on end, then
suddenly several different things that make you go
ďHmmm...Ē turn up in the space of two days.
May Day and International Press Freedom Day this
weekend. While the town hall was blocking off some
streets with traffic cones for the usual May Day union
march through Fremantle, a huge SUV was unable to see
the traffic cones and drove over one. He caught the tip
in the undercarriage (if thatís the right word) of his
SUV and dragged the cone all the way down the street as
he drove. Heads all over High Street in Fremantle
whipped around to find out what the horrendous noise was
and every single person on the street burst out laughing
at the exact same moment as we saw what had happened.
Several of us waved at him to stop but he looked at us
quizzically and drove on.
May day march
the march started. I stood at the door of a boutique and
watched them go by. Down the street came the mayor and
his supporters ó about 50 of them. Very conveniently at
the other end of the parade came a group of people who
were for various reasons against the mayor. That was
rather amusing. Along came the unions, trucks,
microphones, songs, bullhorns, kids, balloons, posters
and banners. Right at the start of the parade came the
samba steel drum band ó I swear, Freo people love making
Sri Lankans marching
surprised me was one of the groups at the end. All sorts
of political activism gets tacked onto the May Day
parade ó I mean, someone came and gave me a flyer
denouncing capitalism. There was a group of Sri Lankans
were they marching for? I am not entirely sure. I know
they were ďagainst the genocide of TamilsĒ but I
couldnít tell if they were against genocide as committed
against Tamils by the Sri Lankan government or by the
LTTE. All I know is they gave me a flyer that didnít
explain that detail and they were yelling in Tamil.
wasnít concerned about their message ó genocide against
anyone by anyone is just wrong so more power to anyone
protesting for that. What worried me was this: in all
the years I have lived in Fremantle and watched the May
Day parade, this is the first time the Sri Lankans have
marched and protested.
to know why. Why, if you had something to say, did you
wait so long to say it? Why didnít you march earlier?
This war has gone on for so long. Too long.
Lankans, I donít care what race/religion/ethnicity you
are, if you only protest when you feel like it, you are
fools. You could have stopped this war in the 1980s when
it first started if you had protested loud enough
instead of trying kill each other in anger. Oh yes, I
know all about Black July, youíd better hang your heads
in shame, you stupid, stupid people.
are we so proud of ourselves as a nation? As people? All
we seem to be good at is reacting in anger to anything.
Thatís not something to be proud of. You took away my
generationís freedom of movement, speech and
representation and you let this war drag on for far too
long. Now that it might possibly be over you make a show
of protesting for what you want. Because it seems like
you might just get this time. In the meantime, too many
people have died and too many people who are alive wish
they were dead too.
woman, I donít have freedom. I am restricted in my
speech and in what I can and canít do. You have created
a culture for my generation that makes us want to leave
a place we love just so we can have some freedom and not
can march in Fremantle, get arrested in Paris and London
and support either side and protest against all these
people dying. I am protesting now: and I protest against
the fact that you let this war go on for far too long
and that you let people suffer through 26 years because
you could not be bothered to raise your voices when it
was inconvenient for you to do so
sorry to be the one to point this out to you but winning
the war and having one side defeated does not end it.
There are thousands of people displaced, there is an
economic crisis and unfortunately there are also people
in power who have an agenda that is not all inclusive of
all races, ethnicities or religions.
ahead and celebrate the fact that war is over, go ahead
and protest but donít be surprised when in a few years
time, the whole mess starts all over again because
certain minorities have been excluded from
participation, legally, socially and economically in Sri
all means, protest. What I want to get into your heads
is that it may be in your best interests to form a
united front with all the other diasporas and citizens
and protest together.
means you protest against genocide against all Sri
Lankan citizens ó Muslims, Tamils, Sinhalese, whoever.
That means that even if one newspaper reports it or it
becomes worldwide news, you keep on protesting. This is
the point ó donít stop. Donít stop protesting. What you
want is not something that can be won in a couple of
hours, days, weeks or months. What you want will get you
arrested, killed, deported, defamed, threatened and
harrassed but guess what? If you really, really are so
keen on your message getting through, what you do, is
you keep on protesting.
Lankans, the world over. Whatever you want, if you
really want it, you cannot be lazy and you cannot go
after it half heartedly.
want to ask you now is this: Whatever you want, peace,
justice for war crimes, how badly do you want it? How
hard are you going to protest for it? Are you willing to
put yourself out there for potential harassment and
danger for it? Are you going to keep protesting till
there are systems in place that prevent reoccurrence?
Lankans, are you tenacious, passionate and completely
want things to change, youíd better be. Your actions are
accountable to me and your fellow citizens, never ever