From: Makoto TERANAKA <>
Date: Tue, 04 Sep 2001 09:19:52 +0900
Seq: 699

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Date: Tue, 04 Sep 2001 04:31:51 +0800
>From: Kathy Clarin <>
Subject: WCAR Update 21 from Isis International-Manila


It was the last day for the NGO Forum at the World Conference Against 
Racism, Xenophobia and Related Discrimination (WCAR), with NGOs from around 
the world still making last ditch efforts to have specific concerns 
included in the compiled NGO Draft Declaration. The official UN conference 
of government delegates began simultaneously. And the historical NGO 
document is ready to be put to the test before the governing parties of the 

Palestinians, Indian dalits, Japanese buraku mins, Falung Gong followers 
and Romas have found the space to voice their concerns before an 
international community and as the NGO Forum was about to drop the curtain 
in the Asia Pacific Caucus, the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka and the 
situation of the country's ethnic Tamils and the Muslims were discussed by 
a panel chaired by a Buddhist monk, the Venerable Baddegama Samitha Thero.

Sri Lanka NGO delegate Ratnaval explained that "The struggle for equality 
which began very peacefully in the 1960s, ended up as an armed conflict 
because of the merciless suppression and oppression of ethnic Tamils by the 
Sinhalese Government."

The Prevention of Terrorism Act and other 'Emergency' laws are being used 
to violate civilian rights, including freedom of expression. "The acts of 
arbitrary arrests under suspicion, detention for prolonged periods ranging 
>from a month to years without a court hearing, and disappearances are made 
legitimate under these draconian laws, which have been enforced for almost 
20 years and are being supported by powerful countries like the USA, 
Israel, China and the UK," Ratnaval further stated.

Speaking about the discrimination against minority women in Sri Lanka, 
another NGO delegate, Saroja Sivachandran, said assaults, including sexual 
assaults and even gang rapes by security forces, against Tamil women were 
not uncommon, as in the case of Krishanthi Coomaraswami, who was gang raped 
and murdered by army men.

NGO delegate P P Sivapragasam, described how Tamils are subject to basic 
discrimination in civic matters. "Tamils who originally migrated to Sri 
Lanka during the British colonial rule in the 1820s and work mainly on the 
plantations in central Sri Lanka, form a different ethnic group from the 
Tamils in the north and east who are native to Sri Lanka. The immigrant 
Tamils are not  even after close to two centuries of being resident in the 
country  given full citizenship. They are subject to a 'Pass' identity 
system and restricted to the plantations, which they cannot leave without 
special permission," he said.

The meeting ended with pledges of support to the struggles of displaced 
people in Sri Lanka, including Muslims, a severely neglected community in 
the country. One respondent urged for a coalition of all Muslims and Tamils 
around the world that could serve to pressurise the government to address 
their problems.

A member of the audience, a supporter of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil 
Eelam (LTTE), asked that the international community should not "equate 
state terrorism to the violence from the freedom fighters. LTTE came into 
being only after the suppression from the Sri Lankan government."

The meeting didn't raise the questions, however, as to why the LTTE turned 
down offers of peace talks by the government thrice. Also there has been no 
highlighting the fact that the Sinhalese are one of the endangered races on 
the globe. And about the Sinhalese victims in the context of the ongoing war.

The issue of the Sinhalese people and the Sinhalese language on the verge 
of extinction, has not been brought up in the NGO Draft Declaration either.

Miuru Jayaweera a program producer in Young Asia television, Sri Lanka is 
alos a team emeber of the ISIS International, women's media team from Durban.

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