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DAY 21 OF FORMER BRITISH AID WORKERS’ HUNGER STRIKE

Posted in Uncategorized by malaysiasms on June 10, 2009

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TIM MARTIN ENDING STRIKE IN RESPONSE TO OFFERS OF HELP

On Sunday 7th June at 6pm, over 500 people gathered in London outside Parliament, for a ceremony to mark the end of a hunger strike carried out by a British former aid worker. Tim Martin, Director of the human rights group Act Now, had responded to assurances of help if he ended his hunger strike outside the Houses of Parliament in London, England, after enduring 21 days without food.

Tim’s protest has been to raise awareness of the plight of Tamils in Sri Lanka, centred on an urgent appeal to President Obama, the UK Government and the UN to press for action to protect the devastated Tamil civilian population and uncover the true scale of the humanitarian disaster in Sri Lanka. During these 21 days, news of further atrocities and abuses in Sri Lanka have come to light – some obtained from Tim’s own contact network.

News of increasing opposition, amongst US politicians and lawmakers, to the request by the Sri Lankan Government for an IMF loan is reassuring to those, like Tim Martin, who believed Obama would not repeat the mistakes of old (such as Clinton on Rwanda) and that Obama’s ultimate stance on Sri Lanka will be a benchmark of his presidency, in terms of human rights issues.

Tim’s four-point request to the US President:

1. International monitors on the ground and satellite imaging effective immediately to verify the true number of casualties and the mop up process.

2. Immediate free access to international media and international organisations throughout Sri Lanka.

3. Emergency medical treatment for tens of thousands of civilians and POWs that are currently not in hospitals and are being held at checkpoints, schools and IDP camps.

4. Public Investigation into Vijay Nambiar, the Special Envoy for the UN Secretary General, as his brother Satish Nambiar is a paid consultant for the Sri Lankan government which suggests a conflict of interest.

Over the course of Tim’s protest, these requests have begun to be addressed. Three days into the hunger strike, initially based outside the US Embassy in London, the US Government released satellite pictures highlighting the scale of the devastation in the so-called ‘Safety Zone’. The press also began to report on Tim’s fourth request: the need for an investigation into Indian diplomat and UN Chief of Staff Vijay Nambiar, whose brother is a paid consultant of the Sri Lankan government. There are now calls for this matter to be taken up by the UN.

Assurances of help have been given to Tim on condition he ended his strike:

1. Tim has been invited to raise awareness and high profile support from a number of top celebrities at a special celebrity event this month, with guests including Bob Geldof and Brian May.

2. Tim has been invited to speak to UN representatives of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, in particular, addressing those countries that voted for the Sri Lankan Government’s self-congratulatory resolution supporting its own version of events concerning the recent conflict.

3. A Parliamentary meeting has been organised for next Wednesday, 10th June – the latest reports from Sri Lanka will be presented to MPs by Tim Martin and news journalists recently returned from the camps.

4. Tim’s requests to Obama have been filmed and given to the President’s ‘Spiritual advisor’ with the promise of being viewed by the President.

5. He had received numerous requests to end his strike from the Tamil community and from the doctors who were extremely worried as his health has been deteriorating. He also received a special request from the Tamil community organisation the British Tamil Forum, pleading that, since Tim is the only non-Tamil NGO worker that has lived in Tamil Eelam in the good times of peace and the bad times of war that has come forward and fighting for the freedom of the Tamil people, fighting publicly on injustices and atrocities which continue to take place, he is irreplaceable to the Tamil community.

Tim has more than proved his ability to gain support after the large number of celebrities and MPs that he managed to get behind the Mercy Mission. Including ‘Trip-hop’ band Massive Attack, Joanna Lumley, Sian Evans (singer/songwriter of the band Kosheen), Brian May of the mega-rock group Queen, Jade Parfitt and Jasmine Guinness (British fashion models), Deborah Leng, Dr Chris Steele (of This Morning TV). Tim is now recuperating from his hunger strike, gathering his energies to report on the atrocities in Sri Lanka to British and UN officials and to raise awareness of his requests to protect Sri Lanka’s devastated Tamil population from further suffering. He urges everyone to sign the online appeal to Obama which can be found at http://www.act-now.info/Site/Online_Appeal.html

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