Tamil protesters surround Australian PM’s house

April 14th, 2009 - 2:13 pm ICT by ANI  

Kevin Rudd Canberra, Apr 14 (ANI): More than 100 Tamil protesters have converged on Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s Canberra residence, demanding that Australia play a greater role in ending the violence in Sri Lanka.

The protesters want Australia to use diplomatic channels to push for a permanent ceasefire in the conflict between Sri Lankan government forces and the Tamil rebels.

There are about 150 protesters just metres from the walls surrounding the Lodge, including three men who began a hunger strike on Friday, with up to 100 more expected to arrive soon.

The protesters were chanting “Australia save the Tamils” and “Australia stop the genocide”.

They have vowed to stay in the park next to the Lodge until Australia calls on the Sri Lankan Government to end the killing in northern Sri Lanka.

“We want the Australian government to act. We have the right to ask the (prime minister) to stop the genocide,” the group’s spokesman, Mahendran Ratmam, said.

The Sri Lankan government is under pressure to agree to a ceasefire, amid claims 3500 civilians have been killed and more than 12,000 injured in the conflict this year.

The Sri Lankan government said it is on the verge of defeating the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, the rebel group, which has been fighting for a separate Tamil homeland since 1972.

Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said he had seen claims of 294 Tamil civilians being killed by artillery shelling by the Sri Lankan government on Easter Sunday, but could not confirm the reports.

Earlier, protesters staged an all-night rally outside Kirribilli House, Rudd’s Sydney residence, as part of a global protest aimed at brokering a ceasefire between the Sri Lankan Army and the Tamil Tigers. (ANI)

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