Tamil television artists express solidarity with Sri Lankan Tamils

November 9th, 2008 - 7:35 pm ICT by ANI  

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Chennai, Nov 9 (ANI): Television artists of Tamil Nadu observed hunger strike on Sunday to demonstrate solidarity with the Sri Lankan Tamils being allegedly killed by the island nation’’s defence forces.

More than 500 actors and artists took part in a hunger strike in Chennai by the television and small screen Artists Association of the state.

The escalating conflict in northern Sri Lanka between government troops and Tamil Tigers has roiled Indian politics.

Many parliamentarians from Tamil Nadu have threatened to resign from the Parliament in protest against the alleged inaction on the part of the Central government to stop government offensive against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in Sri Lanka.

The situation has also prompted heated diplomatic exchanges between New Delhi and Colombo.

Tamils in India and the film industry of the state have been urging for the Indian government’’s support to the LTTE rebels who have been fighting for a separate Tamil homeland in Sri Lanka since 1983.

Atrocities in Sri Lanka have been going on for ages. Since the time I was born I have been hearing that people are being killed in Sri Lanka in atrocities against particularly Tamils are going on. This is something that is very wrong, said Deepa Vengat, a television actor.

Demanding immediate ceasefire between the Sri Lankan government forces and the LTTE, television artists in Tamil Nadu cancelled all the shootings for the day as most of them took part in the hunger strike.

We are thinking that Government of India and the government of Tamil Nadu will take measures to stop war in Sri Lanka and we are expecting peace in Sri Lanka as early as possible, said Vasanth, President, Small Screen Artists Association.

LTTE supporters in India say the government gives weapons to Sri Lanka, but New Delhi says it only provides non-lethal equipment. Diplomats say it also provides intelligence that has helped Sri Lanka to intercept Tiger boats.

The Tigers are fighting to create a separate homeland for Sri Lankan Tamils, many of whom complain of marginalisation by successive governments led by the Sinhalese majority since the island nation’’s independence from Britain in 1948.

But the Sri Lankan government says the rebels must be destroyed, because they are on a host of terrorism lists including those from the United States, India and Europe, and adds that it is increasingly confident of defeating them soon.

External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee has ruled out any Indian involvement in solving the conflict, which the government says must be solved through dialogue.

Sri Lankan government’’s special envoy to India had sought assurance from Colombo that all humanitarian steps would be taken to protect the ethnic Tamils in the island nation during the ongoing military offensive against the LTTE.

The Indian government had also decided to provide 800 tonnes of relief material to the civilian population in conflict-hit northern Sri Lanka.

Nearly 80,000 relief packets containing necessary life saving drugs, clothes and food material have already been dispatched to Sri Lanka. (ANI)

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